Don't just recycle---buy recycled, remanufactured goods
By Jared Blank
Sorting and recycling your trash is only half of the recycling battle, according to Erica Spiegel, recycling coordinator. "Most people think of recycling as putting trash into different bins, but that's just the start of the process-it ends with purchasing recycled products," Spiegel said at "Closing the Loop," a forum held last Wednesday in the Michigan League to educate members of the campus community on ways they can close the recycling loop and purchase goods made from recycled materials.
The burden of requesting products made with recycled contents lies with the purchaser, said Mary Jo Huber, order specialist in University Stores. "At the University, nobody is forced to buy recycled-content products. You have to request it specifically."
She added that there are occasionally additional costs associated with goods made with recycled content. But, "the more demand there is for a product, the lower the price we can get for you," she said.
Huber cited the success of the remanufactured toner cartridge program as a way that recycled products actually can save money. "In the last 12 months, we've sold more than 5,600 remanufactured toner cartridges. Prices are better than everyou can save about $10 per cartridge if you buy those that are remanufactured."
Nancy Stone, who works for the City of Ann Arbor Department of Solid Waste, stressed the importance of educating yourself about the differences between goods made with and without recycled content. "You have to understand the differences between products made with recycled materials. Things may be unusual from what you're used to," she said.
Stone suggested speaking with a representative of the company who makes a product in which you are interested. "Ask for free samples, ask for the product's specifications. Most important, if you're unhappy with a product, tell the company, don't just say you're never going to buy recycled products again." Companies need customers to suggest ways to improve their products, she added.
Steve Royce, senior purchasing agent, urged people to continue to request recycled goods. "Stores started to stock recycled products because you all started to call. It's up to you to continue the process."