UK making the most out of trash with recycling programs


File Photo by Adam Pennavaria | Staff

Lee Mengistu


UK recycled more than 5.7 million pounds in 2014 — including UK Healthcare, Athletics and off-campus facilities.

According to UK Recycling Coordinator Esther Moberly, much of the progress is the “All-In-One” bins that collect cardboard, cans, plastic, glass and paper, which is the most recycled item on campus. Those bins contributed to about 1.5 million pounds of recycling in 2015.

“Besides cigarette butts, the most littered item in Kentucky is pop cans and soda bottles, which are both recyclable,” Moberly said. 

Each can is a contribution to the largest aluminum can recycling center in the world — less than an hour away in Berea, Kentucky.

UK’s Recycling Program, a partnership with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Recycling Center, supports 770 jobs in the state and over 6,000 manufacturing jobs nationwide according to Moberly, who said the greatest misconception about recycling is that cups are recyclables.

“The most recycled item that’s incorrect are cups—Styrofoam cups, Starbucks cups, plastic cups. None of them are recyclable,” Moberly said.

UK participates in “RecycleMania,” a national competition with several universities and colleges, supported by the Keep America Beautiful campaign.

Not only are the products removed from campus recycled, some of the products are brought back.

“The university also purchases a tremendous amount of goods that have recycled content in them, everything from the steel in the buildings going up on campus to the paper found in campus printers,” Sustainability Coordinator Shane Tedder said.

Lee Mengistu

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