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Wittenberg Library Recycling Project

When Thomas Library at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio undertook an enormous weeding project of some of its print journal holdings, Director Doug Lehman and Serials Administrative Assistant Lori Judy confronted a problem. If they were to discard all those periodicals that were now available through online sources, they needed to find something to do with the paper -- tons of paper -- which would be headed out the door. The complication is that these periodicals were bound, and most paper recyclers can’t handle those materials.
Doug and Lori persistently followed up leads until they found one company, Hanna Paper Recycling out of Cincinnati, http://www.hannapaper.com/ that would haul away these weeded items. They only had to pay transportation costs, $150-$300, taken from their library budget. So arrangements were made with Hanna Paper Recycling, the bound journals were pulled from the shelves, loaded into large carts and hauled away in a series of shipments through the summer. This weeding project happened over several years, beginning in 2009, with the initial year being the largest. In later years they worked with Eartha Limited http://www.earthalimited.com/, out of Columbus, OH.
Bound journal volumes on the tables waiting to be placed in carts and recycled.
The first of three loads of bound journal volumes waiting to be recycled.
Doug and Lori’s work, with the help of several student workers, added 21.6 tons of recycling to Wittenberg’s tally, about the same amount by weight that the campus as a whole reclaims in a year’s time. Hanna Paper Recycling calculated the efforts of these Wittenbergers saved about 367 trees.

Doug came to Wittenberg in 2004 from the University of Vermont, an institution in a state with a long history of recycling and environmental ethics. He couldn’t in good conscience allow this huge amount of paper to be dumped in a landfill. As libraries move to more online and electronic materials, the issue of disposing of paper, as well as old video and audio materials will become a larger problem. Doug encourages other libraries to explore recycling companies in their area to meet this pressing issue.

Wittenberg University has an active recycling program, an EcoHouse, Green Greeks program and a Food Co-op. Doug credits English Professor Rick Incorvati with inspiring many of the green initiatives at Wittenberg.  Read more about these initiatives at http://www5.wittenberg.edu/administration/green.html