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The Greening of the Mount: Single Stream Recycling Adopted

Emmitsburg, Maryland- Making recycling easier and sending less refuse to landfills is the goal behind Mount St. Mary's University recent switch to "single stream" recycling.

"Through the efforts of the Mount's Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Committee, and the cooperation of administration and staff, we are offering single-stream recycling on campus - allowing the university to recycle much more material," said David Wehner, associate professor of English and chair of the Mount's recycling committee. "In the past, we couldn't recycle glass, or paperboard boxes and certain plastics, but we can through the single stream process. The more we recycle, the better it is for the environment."

Single stream recycling is a system in which all paper fibers, plastics, metals, and other containers are mixed in a collection truck, instead of being sorted by the depositor into separate commodities - such as newspaper, paperboard, corrugated fiberboard, plastic, or glass - and handled separately throughout the collection process. In single stream, both the collection and processing systems are designed to handle this mixture of recyclables, with materials being separated for reuse at a materials recovery facility.

Wehner says more communities and universities are adopting single-stream recycling because it is easy and it works. Single-stream recycling increases participation and produces, on average, at least 50 percent more collected recyclables.

"The impact of Single Stream Recycles reduces the amount of recyclable material that would usually be thrown into the trash and instead properly manages recyclable materials so they can be reused and prevent further waste from polluting the environment," said Tony Aliquo, C'14, president of the student-led Environmental Club.

Adopting single stream recycling continues a legacy of environmental stewardship at the Mount, which began in 2007 with University President Thomas H. Powell pledge as a charter signatory of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), a national initiative with a goal of carbon neutrality at member institutions.

The Mount employs Waste Management Inc., North America's largest recycler of post-consumer waste, which handled 14 million tons of recovered materials in 2012. The company projects it will process more than 20 million tons annually by 2020.

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