February 24, 2011

RecycleMania Numbers Down So Far—How to Get Involved

RecycleManiaThis year, Case Western Reserve University is participating in the third annual RecycleMania, a 10-week contest among 630 U.S. colleges and universities to see which campus can save the most waste. During RecycleMania, schools report recycling and trash data, which are ranked according to the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita and the highest recycling rate.

To draw attention to RecycleMania on campus, the Student Sustainability Council will host an event Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Thwing Center, where they will give out prizes and explain the benefits of recycling and waste reduction.

This is the fifth week of RecycleMania, and so far campus recycling numbers are down significantly from previous years. Over the first four weeks, the university has recycled nearly 35,000 pounds less than the same time period in 2010.

“It’s not about beating other schools or winning the competition. It’s about improving our effect on the environment and moving forward to becoming carbon neutral here on campus,” said Gene Matthews, director of the Department of Facilities Services.

So what are some ways to increase the university’s recycling rate and, more importantly, lessen our impact on the environment? Beyond the obvious—recycle!—there are some other tips.

The university recycles about 30 tons per month, but also produces nearly 100 tons of garbage, Matthews said. So one piece of the puzzle is to reduce waste. “Are people thinking about how many pieces and parts they buy? Are we doing anything about adjusting the quantities we buy?” Matthews asked. “The highest level of sustainability is avoidance—don’t buy it to begin with, and don’t use it to begin with.”

Beyond reducing your waste, it’s critical to know what can be recycled and how it needs to be recycled. For example, if you throw a paper cup half full of coffee into a recycling bin, not only can that cup not be recycled, neither can any of the products the coffee touched, Matthews said.

Here on campus, more recycling/waste stations have been added to campus over the past year, with each recycling bin placed closer to a trash can for ease of use. Additionally, the bins are convenient in style, with flip-top bins for paper, slots for cardboard and bins for plastic/aluminum and trash. Plus, now all paper—white paper and color/mixed fiber paper—can be recycled in the same bin.

And finally, know what can and can’t be recycled. In Ohio, all metals and glass jars and bottles can be recycled, but not all plastics or electronics can. To learn more about what is waste and what is recyclable, visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Litter and Recycling Prevention website, then start recycling.

Posted by: Emily Mayock, February 24, 2011 09:53 AM | News Topics: sustainability

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