Campus branch focuses online to reduce waste, sell cheap furniture

Grace Speas

A piece of furniture can live a long life, whether it sits polished in a student apartment or smothered in the waste of a landfill. A UT branch called Resource Recovery is reducing trash pile-up by putting old campus furnishings and equipment up for sale online to the public.

“If it exists at the University today, it will one day be seen online or in the store,” said Robert Moddrell, manager of Resource Recovery.

“The store” is in Building 30 at The Pickle Research Campus located at 10100 Burnet Road. The location serves as a pick-up site for items bought on Craigslist or, sites used by Resource Recovery to sell items online. Buyers have approximately two weeks to pick up items, and they are notified via email before their item is marked as abandoned.

Resource Recovery has worked with Surplus Property in the past to host retail events and auctions, but the branch is now mainly focused on online sales to make the process more effective and easier for everyone to participate, according to Moddrell. Auction items can be offered up by hired auctioneers, students and supervisors of the facilities.

“We make every effort possible to make items available for re-use at the University,” Moddrell said. “Once items have been available for re-use, we concentrate on selling as much as possible to reduce landfill and to help fund our operations.”

The largest volume of items are office furniture items, but there are other items, from laboratory animal cages to vehicles, which are leftover and sold if they cannot be repurposed on campus.

“I don’t think many on campus know that they can buy a wood chair for $5, for example,” said Kristin Phillips, communications coordinator for the Office of Sustainability. “Most people don’t think about the financial and environmental burden of excess stuff.”

And there is a lot of excess stuff. Resource Recovery receives between two to three million pounds of material each year, Moddrell said.

Michel Asperas, a business marketing sophomore, is one of 35,000 members on a Facebook group called “UT Buy/Sell/Trade/Free.” Asperas said he bought a bunk bed and desk combo unit on the page from another student, but he would consider buying from Resource Recovery if the inventory interests him and the prices are cheaper.

“Money talks at the end of the day,” Asperas said.