The University Record, October 9, 2000

U-M marks victory on and off the field

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

Osman A. Butt, an employee at Mail Boxes Etc., helped make room for styrofoam peanuts recycled by students who moved to Ann Arbor this fall with computers and other delicate belongings packed solidly away in the stuff. Mail Boxes will be able to use the packing material again in its business. Photo by Bill Wood, U-M Photo Services
Waste Management Services and the Department of Athletics have teamed up to win the trash battle, making Michigan Stadium the first major university athletic facility to offer an in-house recycling program.

The recycling bins at the stadium are donated by Absopure and were given a workout at the football season’s opener. With temperatures in the mid-80s, more than 6,000 pounds or an estimated 105,000 plastic bottles were collected for recycling. That’s enough bottles to fill a trash truck. The following weekend’s game, played in cooler temperatures, garnered another 4,000 pounds.

“The fans’ participation in the program has far exceeded my expectations,” says Sarah Archer, recycling coordinator. “Changing behavior is the most challenging aspect of my job. So, to watch fans coming and going throughout the game thoughtfully placing their waste and recycling in the correct container was like being in a dream. These first two games were evidence that Michigan fans are ‘recycling champions.’”

Michigan Stadium isn’t the only place where the University community is engaged in positive recycling methods. Each fall students moving into residence halls bring with them computers, televisions, stereo equipment, refrigerators and many other items packed in a box secured with block foam packaging. This foam packaging is a dense polystyrene product that can be recycled. This year when students moved onto campus, the recycling program worked with Housing Facilities staff to separate foam block and foam peanut packaging materials from the waste. The materials were collected in each residence hall during “move-in week” and the week following. More than 150 cubic yards of foam block were collected. That’s enough to fill a 40-foot long semi-trailer one-and-a-half times. Dart Container of Mason, Mich., picked up the foam block and will turn the material into pellets for use in such recycled content products as rulers and videotape cases. The Mailbox Etc. operation in the Michigan Union has been using the more than 70 bags of plastic peanuts collected during “move-in” as well as the foam sheeting and bubble wrap collected at the same time.

“Collection of foam packaging during student move-in not only diverted material from the landfill,” Archer says, “but also keeps loading dock areas and the grounds surrounding the docks free of ‘flying peanuts.’”