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Shades of Green: UIC's recycling bin masters

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Joe Fabrizio and Ray Shumpert

Ray Shumpert, left, and Joe Fabrizio are the men behind UIC’s recycling program, picking up more than 2 tons a day.

Photo: Kate Yoshida

“Shades of Green,” a column on environmental issues related to the UIC community, appears monthly in UIC News.

This month, Shades tips its hat to the team that, for the past 12 years, has been the heart — and sturdy back — of UIC’s recycling program.

Joe Fabrizio and Ray Shumpert have hauled literally tons of paper and cardboard — 8,700 tons altogether — from hallways and loading docks to their special white recycling truck. That’s over 2 tons per day!

I met Joe and Ray one Tuesday at 7:15 a.m. outside University Hall to see the process first hand.

“One thing about this job,” laughs Joe, “I never have to go to the gym.”

It’s easy to see why as he deftly maneuvers two large green “totes” (93-gallon rolling containers), each weighing up to 150 pounds, through the hallways, around corners, in and out of elevators and out the exits to the truck.

This is accomplished with swift, economical movements. Up and down, over and over — all at a dizzying pace. The combination of strength and precision was truly astonishing.

“I get sort of mad when I see recyclables in the trash. At least 30 percent of trash is recyclable,” says Fabrizio.

“I would guess that 80 percent of people do participate in recycling, even though it’s on the honor system. Our numbers [volumes collected] are tremendous.”

Proper care in separating the trash equals more money for the university, since paper and cardboard are sold by the ton to a local recycling service.

“We can always improve education to make recycling more accessible,” Fabrizio says. “That way we can get every little bit. It’s important that people see the recycling containers first before they see the trash.”

Fabrizio and Shumpert take great pride in their work and the recycling program.

“People want to have the choice to recycle, and we try to make it simple for them. I think people want to see us doing this,” Fabrizio says.

They are proud to provide quick customer service for special requests, when lots of paper requires extra totes. They can usually deliver additional receptacles within 24 hours.

“Public service is cool,” Fabrizio says.

He enjoys working at UIC, especially interacting with all different nationalities of people.

“It’s a melting pot. Every day is different.”

Thanks, again, Joe and Ray!

Kate Yoshida is program coordinator in the Office of the Sustainability.

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