Wanted: Your old Tidy Cats containers

Tidy Cats cat litter users can help pilot a glass recycling effort on campus this summer simply by bringing in their empties. University officials and scientists hope the pilot program will prove to be an effective way to keep broken, discarded glass from Iowa State labs out of the Ames Resource Recovery Plant.

"Glass isn't useful in the production of electricity at the recovery plant, and it causes considerable wear on plant machinery," director of sustainability Merry Rankin said. "The city is asking for our help in keeping glass out of our trash.”

Tidy Cats container

Summer test

The proposed solution, which will be tested this summer, is to place identical large, yellow containers in labs for glass waste. The containers are yellow to match the City of Ames glass recycling bins that will be placed on loading docks of pilot buildings. Filled Tidy Cat containers will be emptied into the Ames bins, and facilities planning and management staff will transport the collected glass to the city  for recycling.

Thrifty, and green

Initially, university officials intended to buy containers for the lab. However, they couldn't find anything in the preferred size and color.

Amanda Jacobson, a spring graduate and summer intern working on the glass waste program, had a thrifty idea: Slap labels on Tidy Cats buckets (pictured). They meet size and color requirements and could be acquired free from cooperative cat owners. Additionally, reusing containers destined for garbage will make the glass recycling project even more green.

Where to donate

All that's needed now is donations of old Tidy Cats containers -- with lids intact, rinsed out and dry.  Partners in the glass recycling project (facilities planning and management, environmental health and safety, and the Live Green program) have set up two drop-off points:

  • 108 General Services Building, Merry Rankin's office
  • Environmental Health and Safety Services Building, front desk (7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. during the summer)

1,800 labs = lots of glass

With some 1,800 labs, Iowa State generates considerable amounts of discarded glassware, including, pipettes, slides, and petri dishes.

"There's great potential here for recycling a lot of glass," Rankin said.