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Posted on Fri, Sep 23, 2011 : 9:55 a.m.

University of Michigan adds recycling bins to the Diag

By Kellie Woodhouse

The University of Michigan has installed 6 recycling bins on the Diag in an effort to reduce waste on campus.

The move comes just days before U-M President Mary Sue Coleman will announce a set of new sustainability goals for the campus that U-M says will "alter" the face of campus.

rec bin.jpg

One of the new recycling bins on the University of Michigan Diag.

Courtesy of the University of Michigan Photo Services

The new Planet Blue bins were installed Wednesday.

Trash output at the university has increased significantly over the past few years, according to a recent report by a group of U-M faculty, staff and students,

In 2004, the university paid for the disposal of 13,800 tons of waste. By 2009, that number had grown to 17,400 tons, according to the Campus Sustainability Integrated Assessment.

During that same time, recycling increased by just 4 percent, the report states.

U-M plant operations recycled about 32 percent of waste in fiscal year 2011, up from 30 percent in 2010, according to a fiscal 2011 recycling report from the university. The average rate of recycling in school buildings was 30.5 percent, the report said.

To date, U-M has focused heavily on indoor recycling because past outdoor recycling efforts have not been successful.

“Historically it's been a little bit of a challenge when we put recycling bins outside to make sure that they’re used just for recyclables,” said Andy Berki, manager of U-M’s Office of Campus Sustainability. “In the past, they would often get contaminated with regular trash.”

Berki hopes that this time around, things will go differently.

“People are just more environmentally conscious then they have been in the past so they make a greater concerted effort to separate waste form recyclable materials,” Berki said. “So we're giving it another shot.”

Berki said it’s also helpful that Ann Arbor's Materials Recovery Facility moved to single-steam recycling last year.

With the single-stream program, the university is allowed up to 9 percent contamination of recyclables. If contamination levels exceed 9 percent, the entire contents of the load are considered trash.

If the 6 recycling bins on the Diag are successful, Berki said the university will add the bins to other outdoor areas of campus.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Sat, Sep 24, 2011 : 11:46 a.m.

Waste of time. On move-in day dumpster say please flatten boxes and they didn't even do that.


Fri, Sep 23, 2011 : 11:50 p.m.

As usual, the UM is years behind on this effort. Recycling bins is an old story and UM is just catching up. Why is this news? Recycling bins have been used by the community and provided by the city for years. Oh, and the bums will flock to the diag for the cans. I agree with the other posters that the students don't get it. They will just toss their trash in the blue bins, or whatever bin is handy.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Sep 23, 2011 : 8:19 p.m.

This is efficient. More garbage cans. And plenty of homeless people around to sort the garbage for free. What's not to like? As for single-stream recycling - it's doubtful that contamination levels will be below 91% once the sorting has taken place, so they might as well have the bins collected with the rest of the garbage.


Fri, Sep 23, 2011 : 4:13 p.m.

I like the single source trash cans I mean, recycle containers. Everything goes in one can just like the old days!


Fri, Sep 23, 2011 : 3:24 p.m.

Maybe the University should just ban trash on campus.

hut hut

Fri, Sep 23, 2011 : 2:46 p.m.

Most of the Recycle bins located in student neighborhoods are used as trash cans filled with garbage, not recycleables. Before placing those containers around campus they should provide some real education for their young charges about Reducing, Reusing and Recycling because from what I've seen, students don't get it and could hardly care any less about recycling.


Fri, Sep 23, 2011 : 2:22 p.m.

haha! The bums will fall in love with the big blue metal bin! think of all the cans!