Campus News

UK expands accepted recyclable material

UK has added a number of newly accepted recyclable materials.
UK has added a number of newly accepted recyclable materials.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 14, 2023) — University of Kentucky Recycling, in partnership with WestRock Company in Louisville, has expanded their accepted mixed recyclable materials.

WestRock, a global consumer and corrugated packaging company, provides sustainable paper and packaging solutions to their customers. The partnership, which began in 2020, sends UK’s recyclable material to WestRock’s recycling facility where it is separated and sorted into different materials, such as paper, cardboard, aluminum, steel, glass and different types of plastics. From there, the items are sent to the corresponding materials’ facilities or factories, to be made into new products.

Recyclable materials will now include:

  • paper cups
  • plastic cups
  • aluminum foil
  • aluminum pans
  • plastic to-go containers (like plastic clam shells)
  • brown/white paper bags
  • refrigerated and frozen cardboard
  • food plastic containers (e.g. yogurt cups, peanut butter jars, coffee canisters)
  • cartons
  • all previously accepted items.

“WestRock is proud to support the growth of UK’s recycling program and continue our work together to divert recyclables from landfill,” said Laura Veldman, a recycling plant buyer for WestRock. “WestRock is one of the largest integrated recyclers leading in sustainable fiber-based packaging. The paper and cardboard recovered at our recycle facilities supply WestRock paper mills, which goes onto WestRock box plants so the fiber you recycle on campus can be made back into a new box you buy at the store.”

The expansion of accepted materials will have a huge impact in reaching UK’s goal of becoming a zero-waste campus by 2030, meaning 90% of all waste created will be diverted from the landfill. While this expansion will help UK reach that goal, UK Recycling intends to expand in other areas as well, such as organic waste collection, reuse programs and donating.

“This partnership is an exciting leap in the right direction” said UK’s Recycling/Waste Reduction Specialist Senior Ryan Lark. “Now that the avenue to accept these materials is in place, we get to do the fun part: spreading the news.” 

A full list of recyclable items at UK can be found here.

UK Recycling wants to remind staff, faculty and students that what is recyclable on campus is most likely different from what can be recycled at their homes. This is because the material collected at your home is most likely sent to different recycling center. Check with their local government and recycling centers about what can be recycled at your home.

For more information about UK recycling and the university’s waste reduction goals, click here or follow @UKYRecycles on all social media platforms.  

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.