Campus News

UK Recycling Encourages Campus to Join a 'Wave' of Change

Made from Styrofoam coolers used by UK HeathCare, the “wave” will be on display at the Gatton Student Center Nov. 15-19.
photo of UK Styrofoam "wave" display

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 17, 2021) — Each year, the University of Kentucky celebrates America Recycles Day on Nov. 15 by encouraging faculty, staff and students to recycle and learn more about recycling on campus. Following last year’s eye-opening cardboard demonstration, UK Recycling has created another recycling display.

Made from Styrofoam coolers used by UK HealthCare, the “wave” will be on display through Nov. 19 at the Gatton Student Center. UK College of Design’s Jordan Hines created the display using 72 coolers.

“When plastics aren’t disposed of properly, or fall on the ground, it will enter our water ways, where it breaks down into smaller pieces creating microplastics. Microplastics are almost impossible to remove from the waterways and hard to see with the naked eye. The UK community can help stop this problem by reducing their use of single use plastic and making sure to dispose properly any plastic items that we do have,” said Esther Moberly, manager of waste, recycling and trucking at UK.

The specialty Styrofoam recycling program, started by former recycling intern Sophie Beavin in 2019, allows Styrofoam coolers and molded Styrofoam packaging to now be recycled on campus. Styrofoam is sent to a local recycling facility that either resells the coolers or breaks the Styrofoam down to recycle them into new coolers or packaging.

“Everyone on campus has the ability to make an impact. Using a reusable water bottle, or refusing to use a plastic straw, does a lot of good," said Joanna Ashford, recycling coordinator for UK. "We really want to encourage everyone to do their part, which is why we are asking everyone to change one behavior in their daily routine to both reduce waste and increase recycling on campus!"

UK Recycling, in partnership with the Office of Sustainability, is working toward increasing recycling by 25% and increasing the campus waste diversion rate to 50% by the end of 2022. In 2020 the diversion rate was 34% (recycling, composting and reuse/donation).

Included with the recycling display is the opportunity to win a free, newly designed recycling T-shirt, along with tabling, where you can learn more about UK Recycling. 

To learn more, visit the UK Recycling website.

Follow UK Recycling on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for an opportunity to receive a UK Recycling T-shirt — @UKYRecycles. Have questions about what can be recycled on campus? Check out the website or send an email to

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.