Shredded campus office paper being recycled into tissue paper

Earth Week activities April 16-22 will include campus clean-up, hike and plastics discussion
UW-Stout student Heather Kent, a senior business administration major from Altoona, shreds office paper in the Human Resources office./UW-Stout photo
Pam Powers | April 14, 2021

University of Wisconsin-Stout’s shredded office paper is finding new life at Cascades in Eau Claire as tissue paper.

When the Dunn County Solid Waste and Recycling closed at the end of last year, UW-Stout no longer had an avenue to recycle shredded office paper, said UW-Stout Sustainability Manager Sarah Rykal.

The Waste Reduction Work Group searched for new places to recycle the shredded paper, and the idea to work with Cascades came up. Advanced Disposal, which takes the university’s other recyclable material, was unable to take the shredded paper because it is not easily managed in the no-sort recycling bins, Rykal added.

Working with Cascades  “allows us to continue recycling our shredded paper with a local recycler,” Rykal said, noting there is no cost to the university to recycle it. The shredded paper is picked up by Cascades.

Sarah Rykal
Sarah Rykal photo / UW-Stout photo

UW-Stout has recycled about 1.7 tons of shredded paper with Cascades so far in 2021. Last year the university recycled about seven tons, said Zenon Smolarek, assistant director of Facilities Management.

“This is a wonderful alternative to the landfill, and we hope we can continue to work with a local company,” Smolarek said.

According to its website, Cascades manufactures and converts tissue paper products for residential and commercial use.  It is the industry leader in Canada and the fourth-largest tissue paper manufacturer in North America. The company has 12,000 employees in over 90 facilities in North America and Europe. 

In January, Cascades was ranked 17th on a list of the world’s 100 most sustainable corporations by Corporate Knights. The ranking is based on an in-depth analysis of international corporations with more than $1 billion in revenue.

Earth Day events

Recycling shredded paper is an example of UW-Stout’s commitment to sustainability. The university also celebrates Earth Week, which is from Friday, April 16, to Thursday, April 22, this year.

Earth Day is April 22. This year’s theme is to restore the Earth. Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day focuses on promoting clean living and a healthy, sustainable habitat for people and wildlife.

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UW-Stout recycled about seven tons of shredded office paper last year. / UW-Stout photo

Events are planned throughout Earth Week at UW-Stout.

“We’re proud to celebrate Earth Day, with its Wisconsin roots, and to promote environmental sustainability in all the events and education we do for Earth Week,” Rykal said. “Our campus community is passionate about sustainability, so Earth Week gives us an opportunity to celebrate our commitment to the planet and reducing carbon emissions.”

Earth Day was founded by the late U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, a native of Clear Lake.

On Monday, April 19, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. there will be a virtual panel discussion on plastic waste and recycling titled Where Do We Go From Here? Our Lives with Plastics sponsored by the Sustainability Office and Stout Student Association Sustainability Council. Rykal is part of the panel. Other panelists include:

A plant sale will be held by the Natural Areas Club from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 20, on the first floor of the Memorial Student Center.

The SSA Sustainability Council is leading a campus clean-up from noon to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 21. Those interested should meet outside the student center.

There will be a hike down the Red Cedar Trail from noon to 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 22. Participants should meet at the Menomonie Depot Visitor Center near Riverside Park.

Blue Devil Productions is screening the movie “Wall-E” on the lawn of the student center at 9 p.m. on Friday, April 23. In case of rain, the movie will be shown in room 210 of the Applied Arts Building. It is based on a robot that spends its days cleaning up Earth.

UW-Stout students can also help celebrate Earth Week with a free reusable bag made from 100% jute, a natural fiber, and printed by the Stout Typographic Society. The bags were paid for through the Stout Student Association’s Green Fee, a segregated free used to allocate funds for sustainability-related projects. Information to claim the bag is on the UW-Stout Earth Week page. 

University Dining is honoring Earth Week with plant-forward eating options, local ingredients and new culturally inclusive flavors in menu options.

Sustainability commitment

UW-Stout is committed to reducing, reusing, recycling and composting to cut campus waste. The university has bins to recycle plastic bottles, aluminum cans, glass jars, paper and more in each building. Organics for compost bins help to divert food waste on campus. Compostable to-go containers are available in all on-campus cafeterias, eateries and convenience stores. The items are composted in an aerobic process that does not emit methane and other greenhouse gases that contribute to the climate crisis.

The campus is a Bike Friendly University designated by the League of American Bicyclists and also offers bike rentals for students. The university has a solar array on the roof of Merle M. Price Commons and plans to implement more solar projects in the future. The university has added LED lighting, occupancy and daylight sensors; used reclaimed materials in projects; and added touchless faucets to reduce water use and hydration stations to promote the use of refillable water bottles.


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