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Recycling Through the Years

 

Mason Facilities' waste management and recycling operational processes have undergone significant changes over the last two decades. During this time, Mason Facilities identified several ways to streamline processes and workflows to improve efficiency of Mason’s waste management and recycling efforts.  

Someone who has seen these changes firsthand is Facilities Management Recycling Supervisor of twenty years, Wiredu Adade. He has played an important role in the department’s progress and the identification of growth opportunities.  

Prior to Adade’s employment, the campus “slim jim” waste and recycling containers were not lined – “we would have to pick up all the bins, load them in our trucks, bring them to the yard, sort them, wash them, and bring them back.” To cut down on the manual process, he spearheaded the campaign for the use of liners in campus waste and recycling containers.  

“Mason Waste Management and Recycling (WMR) team has made major improvements to help move the university forward, including but not limited to: our waste diversion rate, composting program, and the addition of smart technology with Mason’s “Big Belly” campus bins,” said Kevin Brim, Facilities Management Waste Recycle Supervisor. “Our work as a department, with the support of the Mason community, is ongoing in efforts to reduce our volume of trash and reach our zero waste goals.” 

Mason’s WMR team, in partnership with University Sustainability, is working toward increasing the campus waste diversion rate to 90% and to eventually become zero waste. Waste reduction, reuse, and donation, as well as diversion strategies like composting and recycling, are needed to support Mason’s sustainability goals. Mason has a robust multi-stream recycling program that is continuously being improved upon. The WMR team sort and collect multiple recyclables to keep cross-contamination low and to maintain clean recyclable material. Mason has also switched to high percent recycled content items (e.g., paper bags or aluminum cans), which are also proven to have high product circularity and recycling rates.  

In October 2022, an interior zero waste station was installed at the Starbucks Northern Neck on Mason’s Fairfax campus. The zero waste station itself, installed by the Zone 6 Team, is made of approximately 1,655 reclaimed milk jugs – key to supporting post-consumer recycled (PCR) purchasing mandates – and offers updated zero waste design features like restrictive openings and better bin messaging. The interior pilot station includes five waste streams: glass bottles and jars, aluminum cans and plastic/aluminum bottles, paper, trash, and compost. Brim oversees collections and operations at the site in partnership with Mason Dining. University Sustainability, Operations & Business Services and its vendors will support planning, coordination, and data tracking/results.  

The progression of Mason waste and recycling exemplifies Mason’s commitment to a sustainable future. Achieving zero waste will take the entire Mason community. According to Adade, there is an opportunity for increased correct disposal methods that can positively impact how the Mason community uses waste and recycling streams. As an example of how waste can accumulate, following move-in week, 44k pounds of cardboard was recycled by Mason’s WMR team! Adade, alongside Facilities Management and University Sustainability, continue to work toward educating students, faculty, and staff on proper waste disposal, recycling, reuse, and donation methods. As George Mason continues to expand, it is taking steps to do so responsibly. Learn more about waste management and recycling here

Facilities Management Recycling Supervisor, Wiredu Adade, who for the past twenty years has overseen Mason’s WMR efforts, will retire in January 2023.