Recycling pays off for Rowan

Recycling pays off for Rowan

A 10-week national recycling competition among universities and colleges gave Rowan University staff and students extra incentive to improve on their recycling and waste-reduction efforts for the 2005-06 school year.

Their work paid off. The school recently found out that it finished third in the waste-minimization category in its first year of participating in RecycleMania.

The competition is endorsed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's WasteWise program, the National Recycling Coalition's College and University Recycling Council and the National Wildlife Federation's Campus Ecology Program. The goal is to raise recycling awareness on campus.

Each Rowan student, staff and faculty member produced 36.37 pounds of trash for third place in waste minimization, said John Imperatore, director of facilities and resource management.

"We wanted to find a way to bench mark ourselves against other institutions," Imperatore said. "We're comparable to other institutions . . . we're doing OK, and we're going to do better."

For 10 weeks starting in January, about 100 colleges and universities competed to see which institution had the most recyclables in tons and the least amount of trash. The school with the highest recycling rate won the overall competition. RecycleMania began in 2001 as a competition between Ohio University and Miami University of Ohio. Progress measured

Every week, student representatives from the schools reported the measurements in pounds, said Kim Jones, Rowan's student recycling coordinator and a senior English major.

A new category this year, waste minimization, concentrated on overall waste reduction instead of recycling. The schools compete to see which generate the fewest number of pounds of trash per capita, which includes both trash and recycling. Top 10

Jones said she was pleasantly surprised to see Rowan make a Top 10 list as a first-time participant. "I didn't think we'd be on anything," she said.

One of the most successful new initiatives to reduce waste was called "dorm rescue," for which students donated more than 760 gallons of food, clothing and housing items to the needy.

The university produced 40,673 pounds of recyclable items during the 10 weeks. However, calculations show the school's recycling rate to be 13 percent, while others had 50 percent, Jones said.

"Before I started (as recycling coordinator), I didn't know recycling existed," said Jones, who encourages her fellow students to recycle and reuse items. Getting the word out

The Rowan students promoted RecycleMania by posting fliers throughout campus and writing stories in the university newspaper and newsletter.

Jones said she would like to start up an environmental club again at Rowan during the year. The professor leading the group is currently on sabbatical.

Rowan hopes to extend its environmental effort year-round and improve on its recycling rate. Rowan has a 30-member recycling team that will try to come up with ways to accomplish that. This fall, students will see strategically placed recycling bins next to garbage receptacles on campus.

The university's plan also involves moving toward more environmentally friendly building and landscape design, construction and operations, Imperatore said.

"We're excited we got a boost from (RecycleMania)," he said. "It lets people know that every bit helps."

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Date Published: Thursday, July 27, 2006 - 01:00
Source URL: Courier-Post