Office of Sustainability


Recycling: Not Just An Environmental Success!

The awareness and commitment to recycling continues to grow steadily as shown by an increase from only 10% recycling of municipal solid waste in 1980 to a rate of nearly 35% in 2013. While many recycling programs grew out of efforts to help protect the planet, there is a growing notion that recycling can offset costs and maybe even generate revenue. To learn how one institution is managing a successful recycling program that is almost profitable, please read this article from Tony Johnson, Sr. Executive Director, Logistics and Support Services, at the University of Alabama.

Tuscaloosa County aims to expand recycling efforts

By Lydia Seabol Avant
Staff Writer
Published: Monday, July 27, 2015 at 10:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, July 27, 2015 at 11:05 p.m.

Tuscaloosa County will soon expand its recycling program in the unincorporated areas of the county with the help of a recent grant from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

The county will receive two new recycling trailers and will distribute small recycling bins at two county schools, said Jim Patrie, solid waste director for Tuscaloosa County. The new trailers will be added to the four trailers now in use for recycling drop-off that were awarded as part of ADEM's recycling fund grant in 2014.

The county's drop-off recycling program has been a success, particularly the trailers at the Bobby Miller Activity Center in Taylorville and the Faucett Brothers Activity Center near Northport, Patrie said. Those trailers are emptied about twice a week.

"We are really happy with all of that," Patrie said.

"ADEM likes what we are doing here, so we got funded really well adding the new trailers at no cost," he told the Tuscaloosa County Commission last week.

The county has not yet decided where the two new trailers will be placed, although they will go in the unincorporated areas of the county, Patrie said. The smaller recycling bins and carts that will also be paid for by the grant will be placed at two county schools for use by classrooms, although it's not yet known which schools will get them.

"Tentatively, we are planning to put the little bins in each classroom so that the teachers can reinforce recycling," Patrie said.

ADEM awarded $154,000 to the West Alabama Recycling Partnership last week, which Tuscaloosa County is a part of.

The county's portion of the grant is $49,000. Other recipients in the partnership include:

- The city of Tuscaloosa, which is getting $14,000.

- The University of Alabama, which is getting $51,000.

- Shelton State Community College, which will get $19,000.

- The Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority, which will get $840.

The city of Tuscaloosa will use its money for a glass drop-off trailer and decals, said Deidre Stalnaker, spokeswoman for the city. The city recently began offering glass recycling. The glass can be pulverized into pellets or sand to be used for other purposes. It's not yet decided where the glass drop-off trailer will be placed, Stalnaker said.

"We will also be repairing a recycle trailer that was severely damaged in the tornado," Stalnaker said.

Other grant purchases include a cargo van and desk-side recycling bins by UA and recycling trailers, recycling bins and bags by Shelton State Community College.

Reach Lydia Seabol Avant at lydia.seabolavant@tuscaloosa or 205-722-0222.

TDK, UA Sign Research Agreement Related to Green Energy, Electronics

Jul 14, 2015

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Dr. Kyung-Ku Choi, left, and Dr. Carl A. Pinkert shake hands following the signing of a new UA-TDK cooperative research agreement.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Electronics giant TDK Corp. and The University of Alabama have signed a two-pronged research agreement to address challenges associated with the growing electric-energy movement and the miniaturization of electronic components.

The newly signed agreement between TDK and UA’s Center for Materials for Information Technology, or MINT, will, among other things, bring TDK engineers to campus while researching long-term solutions to some of the biggest challenges faced by the industry today.

“A portion of this collaboration between TDK and UA researchers seeks an alternative to high-potential magnetic materials, known as rare-earth materials, central to sustaining the electric energy movement,” said Dr. Carl A. Pinkert, UA vice president for research and economic development. “Combining the know-how of TDK with that of our MINT researchers creates an intellectual powerhouse to tackle these significant challenges.”

“This collaboration between TDK and UA should help to better overcome the challenges in new magnetic materials development,” said Dr. Kyung-Ku Choi, general manager of TDK’s Material Development Center. “TDK believes that strong inroads have been made and pose timely opportunities in the development of both high frequency soft magnetic material and rare-earth free magnets through our collaborative efforts.”

Pinkert and Choi recently formalized the agreement at the TDK Technical Center in Ichikawa, Japan.

The agreement between TDK and UA is called the MINT-TDK Collaborative Project.  It builds on existing collaborations between these two entities and others led by Dr. Takao Suzuki, director of UA’s MINT Center.

The new effort, which formally begins Sept. 1, has two components, rare-earth free permanent magnets and soft magnet metal for high-frequency applications.

Rare-earth materials make the most powerful and efficient magnets, and their size and reliability are well suited for electric motors that use their magnetic field as power. However, an estimated 95 percent of the world’s supply of rare earth materials is produced in China.

Price instability makes it difficult to rely on rare-earth minerals and threatens widespread adoption of many energy solutions by U.S. companies, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. And, the extraction of these rare earth minerals has created environmental concerns. So, leading scientists around the world are researching potential substitutes.

Both UA and TDK are part of a previously announced $1.6 million G8 project, led by UA’s Suzuki and involving 13 other UA researchers along with scientists in Germany, Japan and elsewhere.

The soft magnet material aspect of the collaboration focuses on ways to develop new materials for high frequency devices that further reduces size, weight and cost.

In addition to Suzuki, other UA MINT researchers directly involved in the new project are Drs. Gary Mankey, Claudia Mewes, Tim Mewes and Rainer Shad.

UA’s MINT Center conducts fundamental studies on materials for data storage, energy storage, sensors and other applications of new materials and technologies. The MINT Center has more than 40 faculty from seven departments at The University of Alabama. MINT is active in research and education through global professional partnerships, including industries, national laboratories and universities around the world.

TDK Corp. is a leading electronics company based in Tokyo, Japan. It was established in 1935 to commercialize ferrite, a key material in electronic and magnetic products. TDK’s portfolio includes electronic components, modules and systems marketed under the product brands TDK and EPCOS, power supplies, magnetic application products as well as energy devices, flash memory application devices, and others.

TDK focuses on demanding markets in the areas of information and communication technology and consumer, automotive and industrial electronics. The company has a network of design and manufacturing locations and sales offices in Asia, Europe and in North and South America. In fiscal 2015, TDK posted total sales of $9.0 billion in U.S. dollars and employed about 88,000 people worldwide.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.

CONTACT: Chris Bryant, UA media relations,, 205/348-8323; Yoichi Osuga, TDK Corporation, Corporate Communications Group,, +81 3 6852-7102

UA Practices Sustainability with Campus Trees

The UA Grounds Department has transplanted a 25-year-old Japanese maple tree from the Peter Bryce Campus to its new home on the north side of Woods Hall. Campus landscape architects selected the tree for transplantation in an effort to save it due to its location in the middle of the ongoing road construction within the Peter Bryce Campus. A ribbon cutting will be held on Arbor Day, April 24, at 2 p.m. at the tree’s new location to signify the importance of sustainability through the maintenance of and care for campus trees. Everyone is invited.

Alabama Sustainability Officers Meeting

The Alabama Sustainability Officers Meeting was held December 15, 2014 at Auburn University. Representatives from Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), The University of Alabama, Stillman College, University of Alabama - Huntsville, Auburn University at Montgomery, University of Montevallo, University of North Alabama, Jacksonville State University, Birmingham-Southern College, Auburn University, and others from around the state came together to share their ideas and information regarding sustainability-related issues, projects and initiatives that each is undertaking.

The topics ranged from Operations, Engagement, and Academics to Planning and Administration.
Brandy Tiblier (ADEM) reiterated their commitment to recycling through grant opportunities for both the cities and counties throughout Alabama. Delphine Harris (Stillman College) noted that the business case for sustainable practices can be made using today's innovative practices.  Tony Johnson (UA) made the business case with the profitability of UA recycling.

The purpose for this meeting was to share information, possibly collaborate and spend time building relationships to ensure that our Alabama Universities benefit from each other's expertise that will in turn help our students gain the best possible education while creating a sustainable business model that builds confidence over the long term.


UA Recognized for Sustainability Efforts With FSC Certification

The University has received notification that it has passed its first Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) chain-of-custody audit. The extensive on-site audit verified that UA’s newly developed FSC chain-of-custody procedures were in full compliance with stringent FSC rules and regulations.

University Printing Services worked extensively with Printers Green Resource LLC and the Rainforest Alliance to gain certified status and is now an official FSC-certified printer able to offer FSC-certified printing jobs to all customers.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international organization that promotes environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests. Because of its 10 principles and more than 50 strict criteria for operating a forest and addressing the concerns of all those affected by the forest, they are widely accepted as the “Gold Standard” of forest certification schemes.

One of the most important aspects of using materials made of wood generated from FSC- certified forests is the saving of the forest itself. By purchasing FSC-certified products such as paper, the consumer is stimulating demand for products made from FSC-certified wood, which in turn keeps the forest productive and profitable for the owner.

When FSC-certified products are specified, both the FSC and Rainforest Alliance marks can be proudly displayed on the job. This demonstrates that the piece was produced on environmentally sound paper and encourages others to do the same. With the wide availability of FSC-certified papers on the market today, virtually any job can be produced as FSC certified.

“I am pleased that the Capstone is expanding its sustainability efforts through the attainment of FSC certification. By offering FSC-trademarked products, it is a positive reflection on the entire University,” said Dr. Lynda Gilbert, vice president for the division of Financial Affairs. “We take our part in conserving the forests of the world very seriously and are committed to doing our share to preserve the world’s resources.”

Bill May, director of University Printing Services, stated, “Through FSC certification and other programs promoting sustainability, such as vegetable-based ink, chemical free plate processing, recycling and the routine use of paper with post-consumer waste, we are on the forefront of print facility sustainability. We are proud of our record and will continue to pursue additional venues to lessen our impact on the environment. I am proud of my team and would like to thank them for their valuable assistance in this area.”

For information on using FSC-certified products, please call University Printing at 348-5200.