This fall, as the leaves change, West Virginia University’s campus will actually be getting a little greener.

The main campus in Morgantown has begun transitioning buildings to a new recycling system, in combination with an empty-your-own trash model adopted at other national universities. Single stream recycling is a system in which all the different types of recyclables generated on campus, such as paper, plastic containers, and metals, are placed together in one bin. The unsorted materials are sent to a material recovery facility, where they are sorted by sophisticated equipment.

Empty-your-own trash, a system in which individuals carry waste from their offices out to a centralized waste station, will also be implemented along with the recycling change.

“What this means for our faculty, staff, and students in office settings is that they will collect all of the recyclables together in one bin, their trash in another, and empty them to a central waste station in their building,” says Stephanie Toothman, interim conservation specialist in the Office of Sustainability. “Making the recycling system easier to understand while at the same time asking users to empty their own trash really increases the consciousness of what we throw away every day, and how much of it can actually be recycled.”

In addition to raising awareness of what is consumed on campus, the changes allow WVU to recycle a wider variety of materials, including more plastic and glass, as well as eliminating the often-times confusing sorting process that is currently used on campus.

The transition started last fall with the installation of new cardboard collection receptacles outside campus buildings. Athletics also joined the transition last football season by expanding the variety of recyclables it accepts in some tailgate lots and inside Milan Puskar Stadium, an effort that continues this year.

“The changes were rolled out inside a select number of buildings this summer, and the response has been very positive. Many employees have reported that the amount of recycling they generate far exceeds the trash they are sending to the landfill, which is our goal for the entire campus,” said Narvel Weese, Vice President for Administration and Finance. “Having employees take an active role in separating recycling from trash is one of the ways we’ll get there.”

The single stream and empty-your-own trash systems are being rolled out building-by-building to ensure the central waste stations are placed in the best number and configuration for each location’s specific needs. The Office of Sustainability and Facilities Management Operations groups will focus on transitioning downtown buildings this fall, with the Evansdale campus to follow in the spring. A schedule of downtown building transitions is available at

Meetings with building personnel, signage, email communications, a new website, and social media will also be used to educate employees and students prior to the switch in their building. Speakers are available to talk about the program to campus groups by calling 304.293.9500.



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