Out with the old and in with the 'green'


The holiday season is a time of exchanging gifts but this year, give more, waste less and lighten the load for Santa’s clean up crew.

“SUNY Potsdam’s commitment to reducing its environmental impact is driving a series of system improvements which will assist in reducing our solid waste stream,” said Bill Fisher, Assistant VP for Facilities. “In a season often marked with excess, we need to stay focused on how to be responsible about disposing of the waste.”

SUNY Potsdam students and faculty are encouraged to aid in the effort toward a fully sustainable campus this holiday season by properly disposing their e-waste and other recyclable trash before leaving for Winter Break. There are many opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle the remnants of holiday cheer especially with the Zero-Sort recycling program the campus has initiated this past fall.

In August 2009, SUNY Potsdam’s Zero-Sort recycling program in conjunction with Cassella Waste Systems was implemented and is designed to increase monthly recycle tonnages, thereby reducing the College’s tonnage of solid waste materials. This program provides a method for students, faculty and staff to co-mingle all paper, cardboard, glass, metal and plastic in the blue recycle basket or container in their office or area.  “We are aiming at a 30% recycle rate for this year up from the 24.4% rate of 2008,” said Fisher.

In addition, all co-mingled recyclables are now transferred to the green Zero-Sort dumpsters on campus, loose, thereby reducing cost and, more importantly, the amount of plastic bags going to landfills.

SUNY Potsdam is also focusing efforts on electronic waste or e-waste, which refers to any item that was once plugged into an electric socket and includes computers, printers, mobile phones, faxes, servers, audio-visual items, heaters, cooking and scientific equipment.

Proper disposal of waste is taken very seriously on the SUNY Potsdam campus.  “It is a matter of doing the right thing for the health and well being of our community and our region,” said Fisher. The campus is continuing to develop “Refuse Stations” in each residence hall that will include trash, Zero-Sort recycling, plastic bags, technology recycling, battery recycling, and ink recycling. Batteries can also be brought to the College Store for students who live off-campus.

Faculty can properly dispose of e-waste items by setting them aside for Custodial Services to pick up or dropping them in approved containers throughout the academic buildings.   “We look at it from both sides of the equation,” said Fisher, “if you focus on proper disposal you can make a positive impact on the environment.”