October: Recycling at Knox (part II)

It’s been a while since the Office of Sustainability published a newsletter – high time to resume the practice!

In February, we explored some of the challenges and opportunities associated with recycling programs here at Knox.  While most of us are familiar with standard commingled recycling (blue bins), many are unaware of the other types of recycling available on campus.  This month’s newsletter will discuss Recycling at Knox, part II.

white paperThe Value of White Paper

Last winter, Knox began a pilot project to divert white paper from many offices on campus.  You may have noticed that Alumni Hall has three-part waste stations, with an entire section dedicated to white paper.  If collected in a clean bin or compartment separate from other recyclables, used white paper is a valuable recyclable commodity.  Knox is now able to sell our diverted white office paper to partially offset the disposal costs for other streams of waste and recyclables.

What belongs in this bin?  Only white office paper – basically, printer paper.  This type of paper can be pulped down to make high-quality new paper products, reducing further logging for high-quality paper manufacture.  Small staples and printer ink are effectively removed during the recycling process, but dyes in the paper, slick coatings, and large metal objects are not.  To maintain the value of our white paper stream, place color-dyed or slick paper in the commingled recycling bin.  Always remove binding clips.

We are currently in the process of ensuring that every office has a receptacle for white paper.  Have we reached you yet?  Does your office or department want to be next in line for a white paper recycling bin?  Contact sustainability@knox.edu to make a request.

library books - CopyBook recycling

Last year, Knox contracted with a local company to recycle our books and bound materials.  In order to be properly recycled, items bound with glue, string, or spirals must be mechanically separated into their different components.  They can not simply be tossed into the recycling bin with other paper items.  If you have old notebooks, bound volumes, books or bound publications to discard, be sure to keep them separate from your commingled recycling, and contact the Office of Sustainability or place a work order to have them carried to the blue tote-style book recycling bins adjacent to the west side of Seymour Library.

Textiles find new life through recyclingtextile recycling

Textiles are one of the new recycling streams that Knox has been diverting since summer.  Did you know that old, un-usable textiles can be shredded and re-manufactured into mops, moving blankets, and housing insulation?  You can bring textiles for recycling to Knox (in the mail room or Share Shop), or directly to Re-New thrift store at the Northwoods Community Church building on Fremont Street.


stick person star catchChef Jason Crouch and the dining services team have cooperated with a group of student volunteers and the Office of sustainability to formalize Knox College’s participation in the food recovery network.  By packaging the leftover hot line food each day, and designating storage space in dining services’ fridges, the team has allowed us to take advantage of the Illinois Good Samaritan law’s protections, and share over 1000 lbs of food already with local family crisis centers.

stick person keyTim Guerrero has been director of the Warehouse and casual labor staff since January, and has helped streamline the campus recycling program.  He maintains active communication with the Office of Sustainability, and holds his staff accountable for effective and regular collection of recyclables, helping Knox achieve the cleanliness and high diversion rates that make us so successful among our peers.

stick person graphRhonda Dalton joined us recently, as the new Administrative Assistant in Human Resources.  She gives every new hire a copy of our “New Employee Guide to Sustainability”, and enthusiastically encourages them to engage with campus sustainability initiatives.   Thanks, Rhonda!

Annual Campuannual sustainability report cover 14-15s Sustainability Report

The annual campus Sustainability report for the 2014-15 school year is out!  See how we’ve improved, and where we still need more work.  The report can be found on the Knox website here.

Among our key highlights: In February, Knox earned a SILVER STARS rating from the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

STARS data was also used by the Sierra Club to establish their 2015 “Cool Schools” ranking.  Only 153 schools earned the Cool Schools recognition, and Knox ranked 112th out of these schools.

Final week of the desktop competition

Have you made a bin to collect white paper at your desk?  Be sure to contact sustainability@knox.edu ASAP so we can come take a photo.  Three prizes will be awarded – a Knox water bottle for the most Knoxy, a Knox soup bowl for the most createive, and a global climate change mug for the most sustainably made!  Stay tuned for photos of our winning entries in the next newsletter.


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