Campus recycling is more serious than buying a Prius

The university’s recycling program has improved over the last few years, and with key additions being discussed for implementation, it only looks to get better.

Headed by the Sustainability Committee, the recycling program was adopted to help the campus become green and reduce its overall carbon footprint. The committee is charged with developing, innovating and suggesting potential projects to increase sustainability on campus.

The first implementation within the recycling program was the acquisition of a bailer for all cardboard products.

“We got the bailer installed for cardboards, and we are running 18,000 to 22,000 pounds of cardboard per month. That is just cardboard,” said Denny Rucker, Sustainability Committee member.

The original idea behind the cardboard bailer was to sell the bails of cardboard to recycling companies for a profit, but as the recycling program evolved, the expectations changed as well.

“We use those funds to hire people to collect the goods,” Rucker said. “We have created jobs and we have people cleaning up in areas that we normally wouldn’t. It’s still profit, it just depends on how you look at it.”

Besides acquiring new employees, the committee has made it a point to increase campus-wide awareness of the recycling program.

One year ago, the university purchased 230 additional recycling bins to place around campus and the effort to increase awareness has increased.

“We have about double the number of bins compared to last year. We have added about 100 recycling cans for aluminum and plastic,” Rucker said.

“Wherever there is a vending machine, we try to place a bin close to that. We don’t have enough cans to put them in everyone’s office, so we try to put them in high traffic areas.”

With the increased awareness around campus, the program has seen overall improvements. Because of these improvements, the Sustainability Committee is looking to expand the program in other areas.

“We are looking into plastic recycling … but the problem with plastics is that it is so bulky, it requires a different machine to compact it,” Rucker said. “We are looking at those issues.”

The committee meets monthly to discuss new solutions they can implement on campus. As with any new program, from discussing concerns in a meeting to implementation on campus, there can be a delay due to planning setbacks or funding.

“We don’t have a pile of money to just jump into plastic recycling all at once,” Rucker said. “We discussed cardboard last year and this year we are looking into either plastic or paper.”

Even though there is a lack of money to implement other ideas, such as plastic recycling, the committee keeps these ideas current so when the money becomes available they are able to act.

In order for this program to continue to move forward and remain successful, it is up to the students to use the program as intended. Blue recycle bins are placed all around campus. Start using them.

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