CMC “Recycles” Surplus Material to Provide Disaster Relief to Haiti

Do you ever wonder what happens to all the items left behind by students at the end of the yearfrom sofas to books to clothes? Through a partnership with the Institution Recycling Network (IRN), CMC has found a way to take advantage of these items and put them to good use. IRN’s Surplus Management Program creates a network for matching generatorsthose with surplus goodsto recipientsthose involved with disaster relief and economic development. Last month, through IRN’s program, CMC donated over eight tons of furniture and relief supplies to organizations supporting victims of the Haiti earthquake.

“Toiletries, storage bins, rugs, small appliances, clothing, books and other items typically find their way into the trash dumpsters on most campuses despite their need and value to others throughout the world,” explains Mark Berry, Surplus Program Manager for IRN. “We play the role of matchmaker, pairing surplus materials with the needs of others around the world.”

Providing CMC students with a central drop-off pointa trailer located in front of Collins Dining Hallproved to be a boon for the program. During the end of the semester, a significant amount of furniture, clothing and toiletries were dropped off by students and organized within the trailer. After the students left campus for the summer, Facilities staff delivered items found remaining in the dormitories. Additionally, surplus campus furniture and supplies were added to the trailer load over the summer. CMC has worked with IRN for the past three years, but according to Brian Worley, the director of facilities at CMC, 2010 was “the most organized effort at capturing and recycling items left by students.”

“The partnership with IRN meshes perfectly with CMC’s values and commitment to sustainable practices,” Worley explains. “Humanitarian relief aid is provided to areas that have needs matching what we can provide and we achieve a drastic reduction in our waste stream and landfill burden through the recycling of reusable commodities. As CMC moves forward with its efforts towards achieving carbon neutrality, programs such as this become even more significant.”

IRN began as a small operation managing the recycling process for a handful of northeastern colleges and universities. Today, they are a global partner in recycling and surplus management, working with hundreds of college and university campuses across the country. Their partnership with The Claremont Colleges began in 2005, through Harvey Mudd; CMC’s first donation was in 2007.

Since 2003, IRN has shipped more than 27 million pounds of surplus material from locations in 23 US states. This material has been placed globally, in more than 40 countries, and domestically in more than 20 states. CMC’s contributions to the Surplus Management Program have totaled more than 29 tons of surplus, diverted from dumpsters and placed in the hands of those who have put it all to good use. This year, all donations were directed to relief efforts in Haiti. In past years, donations have been sent to Africa, Guyana, Nicaragua, and Jamaica, among other locations.

“Claremont McKenna’s participation in our Surplus Management Program is very unique and very valuable,” Berry states. “CMC is one of only a few campuses nationwide that IRN has partnered with to collect student surplus items at the time of commencement, and they have been a tremendous asset as we funnel these student items through our program directly to those in need.”