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Campus Recycling Program

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In 1990, Vanderbilt University began actively working on a program to reduce waste for the University community. Formally established in 1992, the Vanderbilt University recycling program has evolved and continues to grow through the active involvement and participation of its student body, staff and faculty.

The program was initially under the auspices of the Resource Conservation Advisory Committee, a forum for student leaders and Vanderbilt faculty and staff. In 2002, Vanderbilt Recycles was established as a student-led and managed organization. In 2004 the organization was renamed Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Recycling, and in 2008, changed its name again to Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility (SPEAR). SPEAR has partnered with both the Student Government Association (SGA) and the InterResidence Hall Association’s (Interhall) environmental committees to actively promote existing environmental awareness programs and to develop and implement new initiatives. SPEAR continues to work with student government in its current form, Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG).

The Department of Plant Operations is now operationally responsible for the University’s Recycling Program, providing building recycling services to academic campus staff, students, and residents and managing a community recycling initiative at special events such as athletic games and move-out.

Recent accomplishments:

  • In 2015, 8.7 million pounds of paper, confidential paper, cardboard, plastic and aluminum were recycled from VU and VUMC together.
  • In 2015, 62.6 tons of used electronics were recycled by VU.
  • In 2015, 6 tons of fluorescent light bulbs and 12 tons of batteries and ballasts were recycled.

In 2015, Vanderbilt recycled enough cardboard, plastic, scrap metal, aluminum, glass, bulbs, electronics, and ink/toner cartridges to conserve the equivalent of the following natural resources:

  • 77,500 mature trees saved;
  • 15,000 cubic yards of landfill airspace, equal to the space inside 135 semi-trailers;
  • 18 million kilowatt hours of electricity, which is enough electricity to power 1,500 homes for a year;
  • 9,000 barrels of oil which is enough oil to produce 171,000 gallons of gasoline;
  • 14,000 metric tons (MTCO2E) of greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • 27 million gallons of water, which would fill 41 Olympic sized swimming pools.

For more information and questions concerning the campus recycling program, contact the Campus Recycling Manager.