University of Iowa seeing hopeful signs from its no-sort recycling program

After only a short time in its new no-sort recycling program, the University of Iowa and its surrounding community has seen a huge boon in its disposal of recyclable material. According to the Iowa City Press-Citizen, recycling rates increased 9 percent from September 2010 to September 2011 and more than 20,000 pounds of waste has been diverted from local landfills to area recycling facilities. This no-sort program, which is also referred to as single-stream recycling, has done its part to make the campus a bit greener and help citizens practice sustainability in their daily lives.

"We're very happy about how that is working out," Liz Christiansen, director of the University of Iowa office of sustainability, told the news source. "We know those numbers can be affected by many things, and we know these are early results, but we feel sort-free is easier for people to participate in."

In the past at the university and the surrounding community, residents were told to separate their recyclable material - plastic, cardboard, paper and tin - into separate receptacles. The community has simplified the process and believes that it can hit its goal of 60 percent of its waste diverted from local landfills by 2020.

Before the switch to the sort-free system, recycling rates hovered between 25 and 40 percent, so the early returns from the change have been overwhelmingly positive. Best of all, the University of Iowa could potentially save money on its program if enough material is diverted to recycling. This would reduce transportation costs and ease the burden on local trash haulers. All in all, the new program looks like an overwhelmingly positive step forward and hopefully other communities will take notice of this recycling success story.