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Stanford recycling program wins top national award

The campus recycling program has been named the top school program in the nation for 2002 by the National Recycling Coalition. Along with Stanford, the coalition, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., honored seven individuals, communities and businesses nationally for contributions to recycling and waste reduction efforts.

Last year, 11,300 tons of waste that otherwise would have gone to local landfills was recycled by the campus community, said Julie Muir, community relations manager for Peninsula Sanitary Service Inc. (PSSI). The private company, which serves only Stanford, took over a student-run recycling program in 1991. The percentage of waste diverted from landfills has risen from 31 percent in 1994 to 53 percent in 2001, said Muir.

The recycling program is notable for its comprehensiveness, Muir said. Along with paper, bottles and cans, PSSI recycles scrap metal, plastic bags and electronic equipment, as well as wood, concrete, asphalt and drywall from campus demolition and construction projects. The company works with the Grounds Department in Facilities Operations to grind tree branches, brush and logs into chips for mulch and to collect landscaping waste for composting. "We even compost the manure from the horse barn. Mushroom farmers love it," Muir said. A program to recycle kitchen waste is in the works, she added.

Muir and grounds manager Herb Fong accepted the award for Stanford at a ceremony in Austin, Texas, in September. Although Muir is pleased that the program has been recognized, there's room for improvement, she said.

"There are still paper, bottles and cans going into the garbage. The infrastructure is there for everybody to recycle. Now people just need to put things in the right bins."



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