FAQ

Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions about Waste Management, Moving and Surplus Property at UMass

  1. What's the difference between the Office of Waste Management (OWM) and the Waste Transfer and Recovery Facility (WTRF)?
  2. What does the abbreviation WTRF mean? Can I see what happens there?
  3. Why all the fuss and emphasis about recycling? Do I have to do it? I know plenty of people who don't.
  4. Where can I find a complete list of what can and can't be recycled?
  5. Where does all this "stuff" go after Waste Management collects it?
  6. What happens to the revenue Waste Management obtains from selling University recyclables?
  7. Can I bring recyclables and trash from home and drop off at the WTRF?
  8. Do bottles and cans for recycling have to be cleaned?
  9. Why can't I recycle egg cartons, pizza boxes and paper towels? They are all paper aren't they?
  10. How do I safely dispose of confidential papers?
  11. Can I place the entire contents of an old file cabinet in the green or blue recycling bin?
  12. Why must I empty my deskside recycling bins into the collection point bins when our custodians empty my deskside trash bin?
  13. Why can't I keep a large recycling bin in my private office? How can I get more or different recycling bins for my department offices?
  14. Why are the yellow trash trucks used to collect bottles and cans (red toters) and cardboard (brown toters/dumpsters)?
  15. Why am I required to report to the office or stop on the weigh scale when I drop off materials (or pick something up) at the Recycling Facility (WTRF)?
  16. What's available at the WTRF or Surplus Property Barn (SPB) for use by my department or even me personally?
  17. Why is the surplus property barn open just 1 hour per week?
  18. Why can't I just dispose of unwanted furniture, computers and other equipment (get it picked up or drop at WTRF), without filing an equipment inventory change form? Where do I get one?
  19. Why hasn't Waste Management picked up that discarded equipment and furniture sitting in the hall for l the last month?


  1. What's the difference between the Office of Waste Management (OWM) and the Waste Transfer and Recovery Facility (WTRF)?

    OWM is an organizational unit within the Building and Grounds Services Division of the Physical Plant. It is responsible for waste management , moving services and surplus property.

    The WRTF is the building and operation by means of which OWM provides recycling and waste management services to the campus. The WRTF was the result of a 1992 renovation of the old Lawrence Riding Arena. The OWM office, the WRTF and the Surplus Property Barn are situated adjacent to one other at 151 Tillson Farm Rd.

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  3. What does the abbreviation WTRF mean? Can I see what happens there?

    WRTF is an abbreviation for Waste Recovery and Transfer Facility. In the recycling industry, the name Materials Recovery Facility (e.g. Springfield MRF) refers to operations that perform one or more of several functions: sorting of recyclables (particularly mixed or commingled recyclables) by material type, contaminant removal, and densification (such as baling, grinding and shredding). The UMass WRTF does not sort mixed containers or paper but it does: (1) sort other types of recyclables, (2) bale cardboard and (3) aggregates recyclables into truckload quantities for cost-effective transport. For the first time in May of 2004 - thanks to the new Waste Transfer station - UMass began consolidating trash loads at the WRTF for efficient transport to regional disposal facilities.

    For simplicity sake, the WTRF is often referred to as the "Recycling Facility." Tours are available on request.

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  5. Why all the fuss and emphasis about recycling? Do I have to do it? I know plenty of people who don't.

    The University Recycling Policy (approved in 1999 by the Chancellor's Executive Advisory Council) can be found at http://www.umass.edu/recycle/recycle_policy.html. In addition, various state and local regulations require the University to recycle or face potential penalties. Mandatory municipal recycling programs typically still see 10-25% of residents fail to comply. So what if you've seen a few others throw out recyclable materials (however, do feel free to question them) Think about the quarter million dollar annual savings to the University from recycling, the fact that products made from recycled materials require 1/17th the energy consumption of those made from virgin raw materials, and, the fact that sending waste for recycling creates 9 times more jobs than sending the same waste to a landfill. Is it smart? Yes! Is it a socially and morally responsible act to recycle? Yes! By recycling, are you demonstrating concern and respect for yourself, your children, your planet? RESOUNDINGLY YES! Be proud that you recycle and pity the shortsightedness of those who refuse.

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  7. Where can I find a complete list of what can and can't be recycled?

    First, see our The Recyclable Materials Guide for regular materials and our Other Recyclable Materials guide for materials not included in the bins.

    Second, for a copy of the UMass Recycling Guidelines ask your Resident Assistant (RA) or your Department Recycling Contact (DRC). See our DRC Guide on this website.

    Finally, telephone OWM at 545-9615 to request a copy of the above Guidelines, or the "Guide to Recycling Procedures for Special Waste Materials and Products."

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  9. Where does all this "stuff" go after Waste Management collects it?

    For a detailed explanation see our Guide to Material Destinations. In simple terms: all refuse collected by OWM's trash trucks is brought to the WRTF, consolidated there in 20 ton transfer- trailer loads and hauled to the Eco-Springfield waste-to-energy combustion facility. Bottles and Cans (red bins) and Housing/Auxiliary Services Paper (blue or green bins) are aggregated along with Town of Amherst material and shipped in 5-10 ton loads to the Springfield Materials Recovery Facility for sorting, baling and marketing to mills. Mixed Office Paper and Corrugated Cardboard are taken to the WRTF and consolidated or baled, respectively, for shipment to brokers and paper mills. Each type among the wide variety of other recyclables collected from campus are first received at the WRTF and then subjected to one or more of the following procedures: sorting, contaminant removal, densification and shipment in transfer trailer load quantities to recyclers.

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  11. What happens to the revenue Waste Management obtains from selling University recyclables?

    All revenue obtained from the sale of University recyclables is directed to Physical Plant accounts where it offsets some of the operating costs of the waste management program. Over the past three years OWM has generated an average of $85,000 per year in revenues from the sale of recyclable commodities and from services to non-University entities.

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  13. Can I bring recyclables and trash from home and drop off at the WTRF?

    Waste from home or business should NOT be deposited in the refuse or recycling bins at your place of work (office/shop/classroom etc.). No refuse from home or business should be brought to the WTRF. However, because they do not result in a net cost to the University. The following items may be brought to the WTRF: scrap metal, corrugated cardboard, office paper, laser toner cartridges, and electronics (excluding monitors & printers).

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  15. Do bottles and cans for recycling have to be cleaned?

    Bottles and cans should be empty and free of problem residues (pasty food residues, milk). A light rinsing or scraping with a rubber spatula may be required to accomplish this. OWM cautions not to waste water (especially hot water) rinsing food and beverage containers. By doing so, you will reduce - even cancel out, the energy and resource conservation benefits of recycling. Where feasible, use old rinse water leftover after washing dishes to clean bottles and cans.

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  17. Why can't I recycle egg cartons, pizza boxes and paper towels? They are paper aren't they?

    The answer is contamination. While some (even most), individuals might ensure that their egg cartons and pizza boxes are free of food residues, the likelihood that a significant percentage would not has led most paper processors to exclude these paper wastes from lists of acceptable materials. In addition, during periods of weak demand for waste paper , these very low grade paper products are shunned by paper mills.

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  19. How do I safely dispose of confidential papers?

    If you are a small or infrequent generator of confidential waste papers (i.e., you have no dedicated "Confidential Paper" toter) then place material in cardboard box or plastic bag and mark "CONFIDENTIAL FOR RECYCLING." Call 545-9615 to ask for special pick-up . Or drop it off at the WTRF, M-F 7:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Your papers will be shredded at the WTRF and then recycled or landfilled, depending on paper type.

    If you require a certificate of destruction, then contact OWM about private vendors on state contract that can provide a completely secure destruction program.

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  21. Can I place the entire contents of an old file cabinet in the green or blue recycling bin?

    In Academic and Administrative offices, once you have scanned files to remove plastic transparencies, carbon and blueprint paper, large metal clips or hanging folder frames (staples and small paper clips are okay), you may place all the rest of the file contents in either your blue or green recycling bin. See the DRC section on this site entitled Detailed Do's and Don'ts for Recyclers. The first section provides rules for office/file clean outs.

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  23. Why must I empty my deskside recycling bins into the collection point bins when our custodians empty my deskside trash bin?

    Custodians have always emptied the deskside trash containers. However, when the recycling program was phased in campus-wide during the early 1990s, the job of collecting the recyclables and placing them outside for pickup was a new responsibility for the custodial staff. Therefore, the Office of Waste Management and Custodial Services agreed that custodians would only be asked to empty the larger collection point containers and that faculty and staff would be asked to empty their own deskside containers into these larger containersIt was further agreed that there would be no more than one collection point per approximately six staff or faculty. . Many - if not all - colleges and universities with recycling programs require their staff to empty their own recycling bins.

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  25. Why can't I keep a large recycling bin in my private office? How can I get more or different recycling bins for my department offices?

    Unless a faculty or staff member's office serves as a collection point for their neighbors, they should not be equipped with a large recycling container. In the eyes of the custodial staff, a large container is a collection point that s/he must service. OWM is reviewing container types and locations in buildings across the campus to ensure compliance with this system. Collection point containers should not be relocated without consultation with OWM. Please afford us your cooperation. For additional deskside containers and to request additional collection point containers (or change their location), please consult your Department Recycling Contact (DRC) or call OWM (if you can't reach your DRC) at 545-9615. Before ordering a recycling bin, please consult the Recycling Bin Reference Guide.

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  27. Why are the yellow trash trucks used to collect bottles and cans (red toters) and cardboard (brown toters/dumpsters)?

    Why are those yellow trash trucks used to collect bottles and cans (red toters) and cardboard (brown toters/dumpsters)? OWM operates 2 trucks that, while designed as refuse collection vehicles, have been converted and dedicated to the collection of bottles and cans (M-65) and corrugated cardboard (M-48). They perform more effectively in this capacity than the long, low-profile aluminum recycling trucks (M-57 & M-95) and permit the latter to be dedicated to paper collection. OWM has identified these special recycling trucks with highly visible markings that indicate their function. Not to worry! Your recyclables ARE headed for recycling!

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  29. Why am I required to report to the office or stop on the weigh scale when I drop off materials (or pick something up) at the Recycling Facility (WTRF)?

    Why am I required to report to the office or stop on the weigh scale when I drop off materials (or pick something up) at the Recycling Facility (WTRF)? The OWM is responsible for tracking the flow of material into and out of the Recycling Facility. This is done for several reasons. Once material is deposited at the WTRF site, it becomes our responsibility. If a hazardous material is improperly placed or marked, remediation costs or fines may be incurred by the University. If valuable materials are removed by unauthorized individuals, the University loses revenue and OWM must account for this. OWM staff are therefore obligated to exercise control over who may deposit/remove which material and where. Furthermore, OWM uses the weights of materials flowing through the facility to track the performance of the recycling and waste management program. It also uses the scale generated records of trips to the WTRF by various departments to monitor the degree to which various customers require our services as well as their needs for access on different days of the week/hours of the day/seasons of the year.

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  31. What's available at the WTRF or Surplus Property Barn (SPB) for use by my department or even me personally?

    See our Guide to Obtaining Surplus Property for details on surplus property operations and procedures. Generally the surplus property barn contains old desks, chairs and file cabinets, but sometimes also has old building trades, kitchen, laboratory or hospital equipment. The selection varies significantly over the course of the year.

    The SPB acts as a showroom for unwanted but still useable equipment and furniture from all over the campus. Any University department may obtain surplus property for on-campus use. Items that have remained in SPB for 30days are considered to be unwanted and are therefore eligible for donation to non-profit organizations. To obtain University surplus property a nonprofit organization must file a request to the OWM on organization letterhead and provide its 501(c)3 number or Federal Tax ID # as confirmation of its nonprofit status.

    Surplus items that have remained in the SPB for over 30 days and in which there is no interest by nonprofit organizations are then placed on a bid list by the Procurement Office (or scrapped). Interested private individuals (including University employees who wish to obtain an item for personal use) can obtain information about bid schedules, procedures and items for sale by going to the Procurement Office web page. Invitations for bids on surplus property are announced quarterly.

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  33. Why is the surplus property barn open just 1 hour per week?

    OWM lacks the staff to devote additional time to showing surplus material to the University community. At the same time, most department staff who inquire about viewing surplus property, seem content to work within this schedule, and the larger University objective of re-using this material through redistribution on campus continues to be satisfied. In other words, the viewing hours are usually sufficient to identify enough customers to keep the flow of incoming and outgoing property in balance.

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  35. Why can't I just dispose of unwanted furniture, computers and other equipment (get it picked up or drop at the WRTF) without filing a Surplus Property Disposal or Surplus Property Sales Form ? Where do I get one?

    It is University policy, in conformance with State Comptroller regulations, to track and record the purchase, transfer and disposition of all University property valued at $1,000 or more. Use of the a Surplus Property Disposal (SPD) or Surplus Property Sales (SPS) Form is essential if the University is to maintain the required inventory system to and monitor and ensure the appropriate use of taxpayer resources. All property valued at $1,000 or greater which is intended to be discarded or transferred to another department must be listed on one of these forms regardless of the presence of a barcode. Equipment bearing a barcode must be listed with the barcode number. For all other items, a description must be provided along with the quantity. These policies and procedures are administered by the Procurement Department through its Property Office. The Office of Waste Management has been designated as the organization responsible for surplus property transfers and disposal, and in this capacity cooperates with the Property Office by both requiring the use of the SPD form upon pickup, transfer or disposal of surplus property.

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  37. Why hasn't Waste Management picked up that discarded equipment and furniture sitting in the hall for l the last month?

    OWM is not permitted to transfer or dispose of equipment governed by the University policy without such transfer and disposal having been properly initiated with a Surplus Property Disposal or Surplus Property Sales Form. In the absence of proper authorization to transfer equipment - OWM staff cannot be certain that they are removing equipment that was intended for disposal rather than just placed in a hallway for temporary storage.

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