Cleaning up with Coke bottles

From soft drink to cleaner
Photo Submitted

From soft drink to cleaner

The plastic spray bottle is a basic tool for any building services custodian who works on campus. Each worker has as many as five of the plastic bottles, which contain liquid disinfectants, window cleaner, degreasers and other cleaning liquids. 

This semester the bottles are different in some buildings, however. As part of a pilot project, building services is replacing all of the old spray bottles in three buildings by cleaning and then re-using plastic soda bottles.

“We are always looking for ways to be more sustainable on campus, and this idea just seemed natural,” said Avery Minor, director of building services in facilities management. “We will potentially be taking thousands of plastic bottles out of the waste stream and putting them to good use.”

And obviously, on a college campus, there is no shortage of plastic soda bottles.

Minor says he presented the idea to the Green Team within the Sam M. Walton College of Business and from that a partnership has developed to keep costs under control on campus while helping the environment.

This innovation does both – re-using perfectly good bottles and buying less expensive sprayers to use with them, instead of buying new bottles with sprayers.

Walton College agreed to let building services use its buildings for the pilot program – the first of its kind in the state, and possibly the nation.

So far, Minor says, it seems that wide-base Coca-Cola and Pepsi bottles work best. In addition to supplying custodians with them, there is one in all the Walton College classrooms, in case a quick cleanup is required.

“I cannot say how appreciative I am for the support from the Green Team and the Walton College dean’s office,” said Minor.

Walton College is doing more than putting its support behind the “re-use” part of the sustainability mantra -- “Reduce, re-use and recycle. ” The college also has the first buildings that put an emphasis on “reduce” by switching from large desk-side trash cans to smaller ones, encouraging people to throw away less and recycle more.      

The old plastic bottles haven’t been sent to the landfill, either. Minor says those are being re-used by other organizations on campus. 

The idea is simple, and it’s working, and attracting interest. Minor says he’s talked to some of his colleagues at other universities and hospitals and they plan to try it, too. In fact as one colleague put it, “we don’t mind being second to use this technology in the state of Arkansas.”

Contacts

Avery Minor, director
Building Services
479-575-7403, alminor@uark.edu

Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
University Relations
479-575-3583, voorhies@uark.edu

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