Joy McCausland, an office assistant in the Notre Dame football operations office, has a heart for the environment. So when a colleague’s daughter helped her see that plastic bottle tops could be recycled into park benches, McCausland wondered what other office waste, like K-Cups and dried-up Sharpie and dry erase markers, could be kept out of the landfill. NDWorks asked McCausland to share her findings, which could help other offices on campus with their sustainability efforts.
Where did the idea come from to make the change from disposing of your K-Cups to recycling them?
We had been trying to locate a company that recycles K-Cups and then I received an email from Office Depot about how to obtain containers to recycle the K-Cups.
What program are you using to recycle the K-Cups?
We use Keurig K-Cycle. The Keurig K-Cycle K-Cup Pod Recycling Program is made possible by Notre Dame's strategic partnership with Office Depot. Through the University’s collective purchasing of Keurig K-Cup Pods, the K-Cycle program is available at no charge.
Approximately how many K-Cups was your office throwing out in a day?
We were disposing of about 100 K-Cups a day. So far, we have filled three large recycling boxes which has resulted in 1,350 K-Cups diverted from the landfill, 63 pounds of coffee material converted to compost, and 21 pounds of material converted to recycled products
Where did you get the idea to recycle markers?
My supervisor Beth Raitz Rex, manager of football operations, mentioned a program she had heard of to recycle the markers, so we did some research and found a company that fit our needs. We use Colorcycle by Crayola*. They accept markers, including dry erase markers, pens, and caps.
What sparked the move to expand the office’s recycling efforts?
Assistant Coach Mike Elston’s daughter was collecting plastic caps from water, soda, laundry bottles, etc. for her school; the caps were then made into a bench. The amount of bottle caps needed to make the bench is 350-400 pounds. That got me thinking of other items that we use daily that we could recycle to become more sustainable.
Were there any pleasant surprises?
I was pleasantly surprised that my co-workers were excited that we had started these recycling programs in the office and they seem more than willing to participate.
Any additional information or thoughts you would like to share?
Whenever possible, we purchase items that are made from recycled products such as copy paper and coffee cups. We had a filtered water bottle filler installed in our upstairs office area so that we can refill our water bottles instead of grabbing a new bottle each time. And we recycle our toner cartridges, which is a free program through Canon.
If anyone is interested in joining our efforts, contact the Office of Sustainability at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website at green.nd.edu.
What advice would you give anyone else wanting to make this or a similar change in their offices?
I would say embrace it with enthusiasm and make it as simple as possible for everyone to participate. I also try to put out information about what our efforts have accomplished such as when we return a box of K-cups we receive a certificate showing how much we have saved from the landfill and I believe that makes a difference when they can see that a small gesture can make a huge impact on our environment.
*Given the ever-evolving nature of the coronavirus in the US, the Crayola ColorCycle is currently paused. Crayola will determine when to restart the program at a later date.