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 Bottom falls out of cardboard box recycling; SRU suffers 




Feb. 3, 2009

Contact: K.E. Schwab  



Bottom falls out of cardboard box recycling; SRU affected


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Economics 101: Make fewer refrigerators, washers and dryers; buy fewer boxes to ship them in. Result: Lower prices paid to Slippery Rock University for its cardboard box recycling efforts.

           "The bottom has fallen out of cardboard box recycling," said William Rudloff, director of SRU's Environmental Health and Safety Office. "Last May, recyclers were paying $140-$150 per ton on the Chicago market for used cardboard. Today, we are at flat bottom. It is amazing how quickly the markets can change."

           SRU installed its first cardboard recycling bailer last September outside the University Union and added a second outside Boozel Dining Hall in January. "Right now we have 12, 800-to 1,000-pound bales of cardboard stacked at the University Union. We are about at capacity for storage without taking up too much parking space, or becoming an eyesore," Rudloff said.

            "Anyone in recycling knows prices are just like on the stock market and subject to constant fluctuation based on supply and demand," he said. Plans to stockpile the cardboard bales elsewhere on campus and wait for a price increase proved too difficult. "We really don't have an easy way to move the bales," Rudloff said.

            "We will just turn over what we have, plus a few more bales that will be produced before the recyclers come next week. Then we will start again," Rudloff said.

            In addition to collecting cardboard at the union and Boozel, SRU's residence halls also collect used cardboard in recycling cages throughout residence hall areas. "Those cages are picked up weekly by another recycler who charges us a hauling fee," Rudloff said.

           Plans are under way for a residence hall recycling competition involving paper, cardboard, cans, bottles and glass. The project will raise recycling awareness in conjunction with the national RecycleMania competition, which pits participating university against one another in recycling efforts.

           SRU also recycles office paper. Rudloff said that the University changed companies a few years ago from one that charged for the service, the work is now done by facilities and planning employees. "We are then paid $20 per ton by a paper recycling company that takes the paper off our hands," Rudloff said. "It comes out to about $200 per month on average," he said.

           Money collected through the University's recycling is deposited in the facilities and planning budget to expand the recycling program.

           SRU recycles its electronics - computers, televisions, etc. - through the state prison system which dismantles the units and recycles the appropriate parts. "Our only cost for that program is trucking the items to the prison," Rudloff said.

           Rudloff said offices that handle confidential paperwork should consider joining the University's confidential paper recycling project. Offices can rent either a large, 95-pound capacity cart or a smaller unit. "We have contracted with a bonded, confidential shredding company in Pittsburgh that picks up the special containers then destroys their contents. The boxes are locked and should be used for exams, items containing grades, Social Security numbers and related materials that are not part of the regular waste stream," he said.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.

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Click here to view the Economic Impact Report