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Harvard College Library News: News from around the libraries

Big Bins Make People Think Before They Toss

public spaces recycling  

New trash and recycling bins next to a HOLLIS terminal in Pusey Library. The bins were recently placed throughout Widener, Lamont, Pusey and Tozzer libraries as part of the Public Space Recycling Program.


July 14, 2010 – Implementation of the Public Space Recycling Program is complete in Widener, Lamont, Pusey and Tozzer libraries. The project entailed removing the small trash containers located at individual study tables and carrels, and replacing them with a set of large containers in visible, high traffic locations within the pubic space. One container in the set is for single stream recycling and the other for trash. Each container is labeled with a descriptive, graphic sign to indicate what items should go into it. 
Initiated by the HCL Green Team, the goal of the program is to capture more recyclable material and avoid the combination of non-recyclables (food, containers with food residue, plastic utensils and bags) with single stream recyclables (plastics #1-7, cans, glass, cardboard, paper), which contaminates the single stream items and renders them trash as well. Green Team Chair Andy LaPlume anticipates that this program will improve the libraries’ recycling to trash ratio, a University-wide goal, in FY11.

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“Before, it was easy for people to dump everything in the little black wastebaskets because they were at every carrel and every study table. Now, people need to carry their disposables to the big bins, and they stop and think before they throw things away,” said LaPlume.

As part of the project, each member of the HCL Green team – Thomas Bahr from Widener, George Clark from Lamont, Monique Duhaime from Houghton, Sarah Kasten from Tozzer and Tim Driscoll from Harvard University Archives, located in Pusey – conducted a walk-through of their library’s public spaces with staff from Harvard’s Office for Sustainability. Their findings were used to determine where to place the new bins.

Other sustainability projects recently undertaken at HCL libraries include the installation of compact fluorescent bulbs in chandeliers in Widener, saving 69,406 kilowatt hours of electricity per year; and the installation of 140 occupancy sensors in the Widener stacks corridors, saving 59,404 kilowatt hours per year.