Recycling Proposal


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

May 1995

Executive Summary

We live in a time of scarce financial resources at Rensselaer. Staring us all in the face is the large structural deficit. We at EcoLogic believe that one way of addressing the structural deficit is with the implementation of a comprehensive reuse, reduce and recycling program. Our current proposal concerns one component of such a comprehensive program: recycling. Our proposal aims to help Rensselaer save money while generating new revenue, expanding the existing recycling program and to build a campus sense of community. The foundation for this proposal was prepared by numerous meetings, much research, and substantial community support.

This proposal is designed to answer the following questions: 1) Why would an expanding recycling program make sense? 2) What would an expanded program look like and how would it work? Finally the proposal will state the need for a one person coordinating effort to over see the greening of Rensselaer.

Why does an expanding recycling program make sense?

The greatest financial benefit from a successful recycling program stems from the money saved from diverting waste hauling costs. Costs are expected to rise as the amount of available landfill space disappears. The Cornell Cooperative Extension projects that, at present rates, all of the available landfill space in the Capital District will be exhausted by 2005. Currently Rensselaer pays $124 per ton ($75 tipping fee from Malone's), to have its waste removed (see Appendix A). The costs for waste hauling has increased 600% over the past four years, and conservative estimates about what this market will do over the next four years, range from increases of 200 to 400%. Clearly, the costs to Rensselaer of continuing to have the current amount of waste removed, via the current procedures, would be astronomical going into the next decade. Reducing the amount of waste being taken by haulers will enormously cut expenditures.

Currently, Rensselaer receives no compensation for the waste that it recycles. Capital Recycling will have taken an estimated 100 tons of paper out of the waste stream by 12/95 (see Appendix B). However, due to the contractual agreement with Malone's, Rensselaer pays for that 100 tons as if it were in the normal waste stream. Furthermore, Capital Recycling has not paid Rensselaer the agreed upon rate of $.02 per pound. As a result, Rensselaer paid waste hauling costs of $25,420, and did not receive the $4,000 that it should have. The net loss to the school for recycling paper is $29,420.

A comprehensive recycling program would generate revenue from the items recycled, as well as divert waste hauling costs, as a result of removing the recycled goods from the conventional waste stream. Receiving $.06 (most recent market value) per pound for paper would result in a net benefit of $.12 per pound (accounting for the $.06 per pound charge resulting from being in the convential waste stream). Similarly, assuming conservative prices of $.04, $.01, $.05, and $.05 per pound of cardboard, metals, plastics, and newspapers, respectively, would yield net benefits of $.10, $.07, $.11, and $.11 per pound, respectively. Even though Rensselaer would pay $.01 per pound for the removal of co-mingled glass, the school would still realize a net benefit of $.05 per pound, since it currently pays $.06 per pound to throw it away (see Appendix C, C2, and C3).

A look at the proposed recycling programs, yields very encouraging results, over the first year alone. Considering a conservative estimate of pulling 28% of the total waste stream out, as recyclable, would produce 345 tons, as a recycling stream. The current amount of the recycling stream is 100 tons or 8%. Calculating the revenue generated, by multiplying estimated poundage of paper (mixed), cardboard, metal, and other (including newspaper, tin, aluminum, mixed glass, and co-mingled plastic) by the conservative end of current rates, yields a total of $43,133. The total waste disposal costs would decrease to $121,192 (not including demolition). The current revenue is $0, and the current cost is $151,127 (not including demolition) (see Appendix D).

The current labor cost for recycling is $3,475. The total cash flow for the proposed program, revenue minus labor costs, would be $26,433. This program would be self-sustaining, creating a positive cash flow of $26,433 (see Appendix D2 and D3). The total savings to the University, accounting for cash flow as well as diverted waste hauling costs, would be $60,368 (including labor costs). Over the life of the program Rensselaer would see the net cash flow increase as the recyclable waste stream is diverted aand further separated as well as seeing the total diverted waste disposal costs decrease (see Appendix E).

The numbers used to represent the prices of the various recyclables are reliable. They represent the low end of the current respective markets. Furthermore, implementing the proposed program would allow Rensselaer to negotiate contracts with area haulers, locking in floor prices for all commodities. These contracts would consist of a floor price that the particular hauler would be obligated to pay, regardless of the market price at any specific time, and a guaranteed percentage of the particular maket price, if the price were to go above the floor price. Such contracts are common practice, and are currently being negotiated by the City of Troy, as well as the Town of Colonie.

What would an expanded program look like and how would it work?

In preparation for a comprehensive reuse, reduce and recycling program we had to understand the mechanics of moving recyclable waste from source to pick up. EcoLogic, with the help of Auxiliary Services and Residence Life, has developed a program that is easy, progressive, manageable, accountable, and coordinated. The main areas of concern for us pertained to the Food Services, housing and Student Union. These concern areas were broken down into Food Services, Curb side (Rensselaerwyck, Stacwyck, Brycwyck), Compartmentalized housing (E-Dorms, North Hall, and Colonie Apts.), and non compartmentalized housing (Freshmen Dormitories, BARH, Sharp, Nugent, and Davison). For the areas pertaining to curb side that already have an established system only small additions were added, while to other areas full programs were created. So not to spread out to quickly the Academic portion of recycling would continue to follow it's present program with the only addition coming in the form of constant management (see Appendix Fand F2).

The key to success for all areas is coordination and a one stop check system. The idea is for a quick and easy check system that allows for problem shooting and solving - a system that can monitor the flow from source to pick up. The way we plan to solve this is by the use of hired staff personnel. In the areas of Food Services we would use the correct building manager for contact, where as for the other surrounding areas of concern we would use the Janitorial staff under the supervision of Tom Sawyer, Jack Holstein and the remaining Auxiliary Services department personnel. The academic buildings would fall under the Building Coordinators of each building via the supervision of Pual Galbraith and Joe Flanigan.

The creation of an Environmental Informational Center (funded under SI moneys) will be able to house all the questions, complaints, recommendations, and compliments from the campus community. The central bodies behind this would be EcoLogic and the Greening Coordinator. As soon as a situation is understood and evaluated all it would take is for one phone call, meeting or memo to rectify the situation. Again we would always call on the continued support of students, faculty, staff, and administration for a successful operation.

This is to be over seen by a coordinator, who is to be a Rensselaer student on Co-op. Many Universities (Brown, UVM, and Paul Smith College) as well as local, state, private, and public organizations have such coordinators. It is imperative that Rensselaer establish such a position in order to realize the maximum potential of a greening program. The Coordinator's position (A twelve month period of employment) is one that will focus on the Greening of the Rensselaer campus and community. These activities will include, yet not be limited to, recycling, greenhouse coordination, greening education, information disbursement, and money generation. As Greening Coordinator the student would fall under the immediate supervision of John Bowman but would work closely with all the supervisors from Auxiliary Services (see Appendix G). The chain of command would follow to William Beauregard (Director), John Mueller (Senior Director), and Thomas Yurkewecz (Vice President). Monthly meetings pertaining to recycling would be held by the Coordinator with the appropriate staff members.

The Greening of Rensselaer Coordinator would be a position that carries a lot of responsibility and duties. Not your average Co-op position, this position is one that will provide hands on experience, multi-level experience and valuable working and management skills that will prove to be a positive experience for any one's career. With a base salary ($16,000) and the compliments of room and board the position will offer stable surroundings and the possibilities to impact a community that one belongs to. It would be Rensselaer students helping Rensselaer.


You have seen the answers to the questions that we feel lead to a successful greening program. We did not go out and invent the wheel. We gathered information from successful and not so successful Universities, from across the country, as well as recycling coordinators and vendors from around the Capital District. They have all shared in our excitement for a greener Rensselaer campus and have promoted the idea of a campus coordinator.

EcoLogic has been working hard to present a program that is feasible, sustainable and progressive. We feel that this proposal accomplishes all the above. With the creation of a Co-op position filled by a Rensselaer student, at minimal cost, the savings to the school are just around the corner (see Appendix H).


Rensselaer Student Body
President Byron R. Pipes and Mrs. Byron Pipes
Thomas Yurkewecz (Vice President, Administration)
David Haviland (Vice President, Student Life)
John Mueller (Senior Director, Auxillary Services)
Jack Dahl II (Director, Physical Plant)
Peter Snyder (Director, Residence Life and Student Dining Programs)
Jack Bestle (Supervisor, Safety Coordinator)
Paul Bowman (Supervisor)
Tom Sawyer (Supervisor)
Paul Galbraith (Manager)
Jack Holstein (Supervisor)
Joe Flanigan (Assistant Manager)
Barbara Nelson (Project Manager of Planning Engineering)
Kim Singleton (Department Specialist)
John Schumacher (STS)
Sabine O'Hara (Economics)
Carl McDaniel (Director of Environmental Science and Biology)
Mike Gaffey (Earth and Environmental Sciences)
Jennifer Galloway (Senior Secretary Presidents Office)
Steve Allard (Finance Coordinator Rensselaer Union)
Sheila Nason (Media Relations Specialist)
Kerri Quinn (Assistant Athletic Director)
Elizabeth Gaffney (Associate Director of Resident Life)
Marriot Food Services
Susan Phillips (Director of Undergraduate Enrollment STS)
Joe Ecker (Mathematics)
Dave Diligent (Albany County Cornell Cooperative Extension)
Dee Dee Cicciero-Kraft (Environmentally Yours)
STS Department
Philosophy Department
Psychology Department
Economics Department
School of Management
School of Architecture
School of Sciences
School of Engineering
Risk Management
Strategic Initiative Committee
Brown University
University of Vermont
Paul Smith College
Syracuse University
Maryland University
North Carolina University
City of Troy (William Chamberlain)
Town of Colonie

A Very Special Thank You
John Bowman (Recycling Coordinator)
Frances Anderson (Administrative Assistant)
Bill Beauregard (Director of Auxillary Services)

To Steve Breyman (STS): Without you none of this would have happened. Thank you for your time, wisdom and guidance. EcoLogic