CU Recycling

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The CU Recycling Program is established in 1976
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CU Recycling awarded state "Recycler of the Year" in 1986
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Student-Administrative Partnership between UCSU and Facilities Management is created in 1991
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A recycling intermediate processing facility (IPF) is built on campus in 1992
Folsom
Recycling within CU’s Folsom Stadium begins with the Paul McCartney concert in 1993
green teams
CU's Green Teams begin targeting the Hill and other student populated areas in Boulder to increase proper recycling in 1997
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CU incorporates recycling provisions into the Campus Master Plan in 1998
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Regular collection of compostable food waste begins in 2005
deskside recycling poster
Deskside recycling containers expands with over 10,000 deskside bins on campus in 2005
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Athletic Department commits to zero waste from football games in 2008
compost bins in bathrooms
Compost Expansion begins to buildings beyond Dining Halls, utilizing rest rooms as the main compost collection point for paper towels and food scraps in 2011
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All outdoor trash bins are paired with recycling bins, boosting recycling by 300% in outdoor spaces and starting the “Can Parity” efforts for other areas on campus in 2011
clearstream bins at football game
91% diversion rate achieved at the home football game in Folsom Stadium against UCLA on 10/25/14
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Expanding the program, a new Grounds & Recycling Center is built in 2015
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In 2018, CU reached its highest diversion rate of 51% for campus wide operations

CU Recycling operates as a partnership on campus between Facilities Management, Housing, Dining, the Environmental Center, and many other departments on campus.  The main focus is to consistently increase the campus diversion rate while educating the campus population around zero waste, all while providing meaningful student involvement.

  • Established in 1976, CU Recycling has become one of the leading campus recycling programs in the country.  
  • Built by student action and motivation, CU Recycling's integration can be seen through the composting and recycling efforts throughout campus. 
  • CU’s achievements in recycling have attracted attention from the National Recycling Coalition by being awarded the first "Outstanding School Program" award in 1995.

Tour the CU Boulder campus Recycling Operations Center (ROC)
  • Have a CU Recycling staff guide you through a tour how the ROC works
  • See everything from recycling vehicles to equipment to operational layout
  • Witness students in action processing recycling from campus
  • See how CU Recycling operates as a campus department partnership to prepare materials for end markets

ROC Tour Form

    Recycling Milestones at CU

    1970 Eco-Center forms, which later becomes the Environmental Center.
    1976

    Student volunteers begin newspaper and aluminum can recycling.

    Student government (UCSU) establishes campus-wide newspaper and aluminum can
    recycling with funding for student staff and equipment.

    1980 Office paper program is incorporated into CU Recycling
    1983 CU hosts the Second National Recycling Congress and conducts the first campus recycling
    workshop.
    1985 State personnel position is created by UCSU for a Recycling Director.
    1986 CU Recycling is awarded state "Recycler of the Year".
    1987 CU President Gordon Gee proclaims April Campus Recycling Month.
    1989 Chancellor James Corbridge appoints a campus solid waste management task force, later to
    become Solid Waste Advisory Board.
    1990 CU wins MTV's national campus recycling contest.
    1991 Student-Administrative Partnership between UCSU and Facilities Management is created.
    1992 A recycling intermediate processing facility (IPF) is built on campus.
    1993 Recycling within CU’s Folsom Stadium begins with the Paul McCartney concert.
    1994 CU Recycling begins collecting a new "office pak" grade and achieves long-sought annual
    goal by recycling 1000 tons for the first time.
    1995 CU wins National Recycling Coalition's first "Outstanding School Program" award.
    1996 CU Recycling interns assist City of Boulder with food waste composting project
    1997

    CU's Green Teams begin targeting the Hill and other student populated areas in Boulder to increase proper recycling.

    1998

    CU incorporates recycling provisions into the Campus Master Plan. 

    CU begins administering the Colorado materials exchange, COMEX

    1999

    Office of the Federal Environmental Executive selects CU Recycling as the nation's Model Campus Recycling Program.

    2000 EPA Climate Protection Award given to Environmental Center and CU Recycling.  Student
    government funds a four-year, $200,000 capital improvement program.
    2001

    Solid Waste Management Stations installed on campus; Residence Hall Automated Cardboard recycling begins;  CU Recycling receives grants from EPA and Governer's Office of Energy Management and Conservation to advance research and make recommendations on computer and electronics reuse and recycling and food waste composting options.

    2003

    A Business Review of the program substantiated net savings from recycling of over $215,000 annually.

    2004

    Diversion Potential Assessment (DPA) conducted by Skumatz Economic Research Associates (SERA) concluded CU can almost double its current recycling effort while remaining cost-effective.

    2005

    CU competes in the national RecycleMania contest, boosts recycling 15% and finishes in the top ten.  Deskside recycling containers exceed 10,000 on campus. Regular collection of compostable food waste begins.

    2006

    Zero Waste vision incorporated into CU’s Blueprint for a Green Campus.  The President's office provides funding for Computers to Youth program. 

    2007

     CU's recycling collection exceeds 2,000 tons (four million pounds). Funding provided to begin the feasibility of relocating/expanding CU’s recycling facility.

    2008

    Revenues from the sale of recyclables top $100,000.  The Athletic Department commits to zero waste from football games.

     

    2009 Composting begins in the UMC as a pilot in the rest rooms to capture paper towels
    2011

    Compost Expansion begins to buildings beyond Dining Halls, utilizing rest rooms as the main compost collection point for paper towels and food scraps

    All outdoor trash bins are paired with recycling bins, boosting recycling by 300% in outdoor spaces and starting the “Can Parity” efforts for other areas on campus

    2013 Athletic Department expands the stadium and starts building new indoor practice facility, starting the relocating of the Intermediate Processing Facility (IPF... campus recycling center)
    2014

    Temporary campus recycling center is set up on parking lot 416 on the Kittridge Loop

    91% diversion rate achieved at the home football game in Folsom Stadium against UCLA on 10/25/14

    2015 The Recycling Operations Center is completed as the new sorting facility for campus materials
    2018 CU Boulder reaches its highest diversion rate of just over 51% for campus wide operations

      Awards

      2019

      Pac 12 Zero Waste Challenge for Football – 1st place with a 86% diversion rate

      2018

      Pac 12 Zero Waste Challenge for Football – 1st place with a 92% diversion rate

      2017

      Pac 12 Zero Waste Challenge for Football – Athlete/Player Engagement Award

      Pac 12 Zero Waste Challenge for Basketball – 2nd place with a 92% diversion rate

      2016

      Pac 12 Zero Waste Challenge for Football – 3rd place with a 87% diversion rate

      2006 Charter Recipient: College Recycling Award, American Forest and Paper Association
      2005

      Higher Education Recycling Leadership Award, Dell Computer Corporation.

      Honorable Mention, RecycleMania Campaign, Colorado Association for Recycling.

      Most Creative University Event, America Recycles Day.

      2000

      Climate Protection Award, US Environmental Protection Agency.

      Event Award, America Recycles Day, Colorado Association for Recycling.

      1999

      Nation’s Model Campus Recycling Program, Office of the Federal Environmental Executive

      1995 Charter Recipient: Outstanding School Program, National Recycling Coalition.
      1993

      Annual Award, PLAN Boulder County

      1992

      EPA Administrator's Award for CUPPS (reusable mug) program

      Governor's Pollution Prevention award, State of Colorado

      1990

      Winner of MTV’s national campus recycling contest.

      Administrators’ Award, US Environmental Protection Agency.

      1986 "State Recycler of the Year" award from Colorado Recycles!