Various solutions were explored regarding the procedure for dealing with discarded library items. These items include library materials no longer reflective of the student, staff, and faculty needs, as well as outdated materials and excess library donations. The method of disposal for discarded library items is BetterWorldBooks (BWB), a non-profit founded in 2002 with the mission of promoting literacy.
BWB sorts the books into two categories: Resell or Recycle. Books which are marked for resale are listed on various used book sites, while the remaining books are recycled. When books are sold, 15% of net proceeds are paid to Milwaukee Area Technical College, and will be returned to the general fund. 5% of net proceeds are paid to Books for Africa, our literacy non-profit. The remaining net proceeds are retained as a commission by BWB to cover all operating expenses incurred in connection with collecting, transporting, processing, inventorying, shipping, marketing, selling, providing customer service, and developing software for the volume of books received. Additionally, for each used book sold, a book from their overstock of books is donated to either Books for Africa or Feed the Children.
The program was piloted with BWB for December of 2012 and January of 2013. In that time, our client commission has totaled to $240.85, while the amount earned for Books for Africa is $80.28.
There is an environmental benefit as well. During the two month pilot, 562 books were sent to BWB. That is equivalent to saving eight trees (six to eight inches in diameter and 40 feet tall) – or one-third of a ton of recycled paper fibers. When paper is recycled for use versus new paper made, water and electricity costs are reduced, and less green-house gases trapped due to books ending up in landfills. The books from this two month pilot have saved the use of 4,626 gallons of water and 1,843 Kilowatt Hours of electricity, and eliminated the emission of 1,193 pounds of greenhouse gas.