UA students, staff collaborate to renew campus recycling program
As the semester approaches, students and volunteers are hurrying to finish their latest project — revamping the UA’s recycling program. The project aims to improve recycling rates at the UA by placing new bins in every recycling area on campus.
Leah Edwards, project leader for ASUA Students for Sustainability and a junior studying political science and environmental and water resource economics, began the project in January 2010 after noticing a discrepancy in bin distribution throughout campus. Over the past three years, she has worked to make maps of every floor of every building on campus.
This semester, students can expect to see one green and one blue recycling bin next to every trash can, covering a total of 1,350 recycling areas on campus.
The project is a collaboration between UA Facilities Management, ASUA Students for Sustainability, Eco-Reps and Eco-Ops. Students and staff began installing the bins Wednesday. As of Thursday morning, more than 600 bins had already been installed.
By Friday evening, every building on campus — excluding the student unions and Residence Life — will have a new recycling system. The unions and Residence Life have their own custodial staff that takes care of their recycling.
“I really want to see improved recycling rates,” Edwards said. “It would be great to be able to educate students and staff about what can be recycled.”
Recycling rates significantly increase when bins are placed next to trash cans, Edwards said. Students will most likely choose to recycle when the bins are more conveniently placed. If recycling rates do improve on campus, the university can collect rebates from Waste Management, Inc., that will cover the cost of the recycling program.
“There is really a great collaboration going on here between students, several organizations and custodial staff,” said Chris Kopach, assistant vice president for UA Facilities Management.
UA Facilities Management has been a big partner in the initiative, designing and paying for all 2,800 bins and lids. Each lid is clearly marked with what materials to recycle, as well as the Facilities Management logo. Kopach has also coordinated with Edwards, building managers and waste management partners.
“This is the culmination of a long process,” said David Munro, program coordinator for Facilities Management. “We now have a new bin, new lid, new signage and a greater sense of uniformity for the recycling program.”
The project comes in preparation for Recycle Mania, an annual competition between recycling programs in universities.
In addition to the new bins, Students for Sustainability has made several attempts to promote recycling on campus. Recently, the group introduced recycling to tailgating. Last year more than 22 tons of recyclable material were collected that would otherwise have gone to the landfill, according to Kopach.
During the first three days of classes, Students for Sustainability will have a table set up on the UA Mall to educate students and staff of the new changes.