Written by Bill Carlson.
Recycle, Repurpose, Reuse
Every day, the Materials Support (MS) team drives around campus picking up surplus items released by departments who no longer have a business use for them. The MS team takes these items to the Materials Support Warehouse for processing. Some of the items are tagged and prepared to be sold as surplus back to other campus departments and nonprofit entities or during the public surplus sale.
While processing these materials for sale, the Materials Support team is continuously striving to achieve the university’s Sustainability Strategic Plan goal number 3: Model sustainability through efficient, innovative facilities and operations that educate the campus community and improve the quality of life.
The Materials Support team removes over 150 tons of furniture from campus buildings every year. Juan Rivera and Chris Hairston are constantly devising new ways to repurpose and resell these items. This involves reviewing the materials, taking working pieces from similar items that are damaged or nonfunctional and reattaching them to the usable items. In the picture to the right, they are repurposing the riser from a stained and torn office chair and putting the riser onto a chair that is in otherwise great condition. This prevented both chairs from entering the landfill.
The university community disposes of many electronic devices through the surplus process. To eliminate them from the waste stream and obtain the maximum value for the university, the Materials Support team uses some special handling methods including electronic testing. By using this method, the team can distinguish between good and bad items. Ramon, pictured here, is checking MacBooks, getting the exact specifications, and labeling units for sale in the Restore. Units that fail electronic testing are broken down into recyclable materials, which are sold to the e-Waste recycler.
Each week, Juan Rivera and Chris Hairston, report the weight of materials diverted from the landfill through online auction sales, public surplus sales, state agencies, nonprofits and campus departments by using a catalog of items such as desks, refrigerators, computers, etc. that contains standard assigned weights. The team is then able to calculate exactly how much was diverted out of the landfill through the sale, recycling and repurposing of surplus property. In the chart on the right, each waste diversion method is represented. During the first quarter of FY24, Materials Support has diverted 85% of all surplus items processed. In just three months, 217 tons were processed and 185 tons were diverted from the landfill.