OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

OSU recycling efforts earn state honors

10/09/1997

SALEM - Oregon State University efforts to prevent waste and to boost recycling efforts have earned campus educators two of the state's top recycling awards today (Thursday, Oct. 9).

John Peterson, OSU associate professor emeritus in civil, construction and environmental engineering, received a special "Recycler of the Year Judges Award," while Campus Recycling and University Housing and Dining Services paired up to win "Recycler of the Year Team" honors.

The awards were presented by the Oregon Department of Administrative Services during a ceremony in the State Capitol Galleria.

Peterson, who joined the university in 1964, retired last year, but he still continues the recycling program he started at the university 15 years ago. He says he has been recycling "since before it was called recycling." But it was his conversion of phone books into fuel logs that attracted widespread attention in the 1980s.

Running his own "one-man fuel unit" operation, Peterson said he first cuts the spines from old phone books.

"I take the spines and stuff them into fiber tubes that I get from the carpet people and turn them into fuel units." The tightly compressed "logs" produce 10 percent more heat, by weight, than Douglas fir logs of the same weight.

"I load them up into the truck and take them to the Corvallis Community Services Consortium where they are distributed to the fuel-needy."

The pages of the books are sold to a Philomath company that converts them into paintable surfaces for home siding.

"The money I collect, I donate to Corvallis' Old Mill Center for Children and Families," Peterson said. The center offers therapeutic and educational services for severely emotionally distributed children ages 3-6.

University Housing and Dining Services and Campus Recycling were recognized for significant contributions to OSU recycling efforts. Campus dining halls recycle about 280,000 pounds of cardboard, glass tin, aluminum, plastic and newspaper each year, said David Garcia, campus recycling coordinator.

Additionally, students in OSU's 10 residence halls recycle 340,000 pounds of material each year, Garcia said.

The university's new Marketplace West dining area is a prime example of campus recycling efforts, Garcia said. About 80 percent of the material taken from a former OSU dining hall at the site were recycled. Dishwater from the new facility is recycled and food waste is pulped for compost and animal feed.

"We're eliminating about 70 to 80 percent of what used to go the landfill," said Rich Turnbull, assistant director of University Housing and Dining.

Campus Recycling and the OSU Residence Hall Association also conduct end-of-term recycling drives to collect surplus furniture, food and clothing , Garcia said.

"During these drives, donations are collected from students and distributed to local community organizations."

Gretchen McKenzie, manager of the State Waste Prevention and Recycling Program, said the innovation and hard work demonstrated by OSU's efforts are inspirational to recycling efforts throughout the state. The program, part of the Department of Administrative Services Facilities Division, provides assistance to all state agencies in their work to achieve Oregon's resource conservation goals.