Campus News

UK Celebrates America Recycles Day With Eye-opening Waste Display

photo of Wildcat making Y in RECYCLE

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 13, 2019) — Each year, the University of Kentucky celebrates America Recycles Day Nov. 15 by encouraging faculty, staff and students to recycle and learn more about recycling on campus. This year, due to COVID 19 restrictions, UK Recycling is celebrating a little differently.

Although recycling cardboard on campus is easy, UK Recycling continues to see some of this valuable material discarded. Based on a waste characterization study conducted in October 2018, cardboard makes up 5.6% of all the waste sent to the landfill each year — over 1 million pounds of cardboard discarded each year at UK.

Instead of tabling on campus or hosting an event, UK Recycling plans to demonstrate how much cardboard is sent to the landfill each week — cardboard that could have been recycled. UK Recycling is placing 17 bales of cardboard on display outside of William T. Young Library from Nov. 17-19. Those 17 bales are equal to the 20,133 pounds of cardboard that are still being landfilled each week on campus. By comparison, 22,335 pounds of cardboard are recycled each week.

“Everyone on campus has the ability to make an impact. That one cardboard box you receive at your office or in your residence hall can do a lot of good if it is recycled," said Joanna Ashford, the recycling coordinator for UK. "We really want to encourage everyone to do their part to help us reach our sustainability goals. We have the opportunity to almost double the amount of cardboard recycled on campus. You can help by placing cardboard, and all other recyclables, in the proper containers.”

UK Recycling, in partnership with the Office of Sustainability, is working toward increasing recycling by 25% and increasing the campus diversion rate to 50% by the end of 2022. In 2019 the diversion rate was 34% (recycling, composting and reuse/donation).

Cardboard that can be recycled includes:

  • cardboard packing boxes;
  • cardboard tubes;
  • boxes with gray or brown interior;
  • empty delivery pizza boxes; and
  • cereal and cracker boxes or any box that does not have plastic coating.

Boxes with a white interior, Styrofoam, and frozen food or drink boxes cannot be recycled.

Central Kentucky Fiber Resources, a local cardboard recycling center, is providing and delivering the cardboard bales for this demonstration. Central Kentucky Fiber Resources receives and recycles cardboard for the university.

“Cardboard recycled on campus goes to local recycling mills that create new cardboard boxes or paper board boxes. Recycling helps create local jobs and build a more sustainable environment.” Ashford said.

Follow UK Recycling on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for an opportunity to receive a UK Recycling T-shirt and be entered to win the America Recycles Day prize pack — @UKYRecycles. Have questions about what can be recycled on campus? Check out the website or send an email to

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.