Sustainability spotlight

Greening spring cleaning

Each year campus departments clean out supply closets and workspaces, purge files, move offices or clean out spaces vacated by graduate students and retiring faculty and staff. From unused file folders to old bookcases, the flow of materials can generate a significant amount of waste. But much of that waste can easily be reused or recycled on campus.

This spring, the Center for Sustainability and KU Recycling are teaming up to facilitate proper disposal of unwanted or excess office supplies and help departments save money through a spring cleaning and office supply swap. Now through April 8, KU Recycling is collecting unused and unwanted office supplies from departments in collection bins designated with a spring cleaning sign at ink cartridge recycling locations throughout campus. On April 19, the Center for Sustainability will host a free office supply swap in the Kansas Union. All campus departments will be invited to “shop” for materials donated by others.

Last year, KU departments spent more than $920,000 on office supplies alone.

“It can sometimes be difficult to determine how much of an item to order, so year-end purchasing and changes in operations can result in a supply closet full of unneeded materials,” said Jeff Severin, director of the Center for Sustainability. “We want to help departments get rid of surplus and reduce spending on supplies through this exchange.”

To properly dispose of office items, departments should reference the following guidelines:

Recyclables (mixed paper, newspaper, magazines): KU Recycling can provide offices with recycling containers during office clean-outs or moves. To request a special collection, call KU Recycling at 864-2855 and they will deliver containers that meet specific needs. Bins are only provided temporarily and will be scheduled for collection on a day the building is on the normal recycling collection route. Visit for a list of accepted materials and additional instructions.

Electronics: Information Technology provides a way for departments to securely dispose of obsolete, unused or unwanted electronic equipment or data storage devices. All sensitive and proprietary university or customer information is completely removed before disposing of items in an environmentally safe manner. Accepted items include servers, desktops, workstations, thumb drives, cell phones, tapes, printers, monitors, telephony, network gear and peripherals. With the exception of televisions and computer monitors, most items can be disposed of at no cost. For details, visit

Surplus furniture: KU Recycling also collects reusable office furniture and equipment at no charge to the department. To schedule a collection, fill out a work request on the Facilities Operations website. Details about the program can be found at The surplus program is also an inexpensive way to outfit office space with gently used furnishings, including modular furniture.

“We have some great services on campus to help departments dispose of unwanted items in a way that is both environmentally and economically responsible,” Severin said. “Through programs like this, we can keep materials out of the landfill, gain back much needed office space and save a little bit of money in the process.”

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Andrew Shoemaker, associate director, Disability Resources
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