Campus Recycling Program Makes Comeback at Saint Leo University

After shutting down its campus recycling program a few years ago due to contaminated bins, Sullivan Foundation partner school Saint Leo University is moving heavily into recycling again, the university announced recently.

The University Senate’s Environmental Committee, along with Facilities and Dining Services, has reinstated the campus recycling program with a mission to provide a clean, safe and healthy environment for everyone. “Its vision is to be forward-thinking in its implementation of net positive projects, contributing more than is taken and aspiring to have a broad positive effect that goes beyond reducing the university’s environmental impact,” Saint Leo University said in the announcement.

Related: How did one of America’s greenest campuses get so green?

The campus recycling program had to be discontinued a few years ago due to costly fines for contaminated recycling bins. Saint Leo was fined $10,000 for each recycling bin contaminated with food or other non-recyclable waste.

Pizza boxes are a common culprit in the contamination of campus recycling bins. “If there is even one piece of pizza in one box in a recycling dumpster, the entire container is considered contaminated and none of the material inside can be recycled,” the university noted.

Between January and October 2019, Saint Leo University took a number of steps to get back into the recycling groove. In January, students were hired through the federal work-study program to assist with University Campus recycling collections. Additionally, all of the paper products used by Dining Services are now biodegradable, and paper straws are used as often as possible except when they cannot be sourced.

Related: Sullivan Foundation offers Summer 2020 study-abroad opportunity in Scotland

Saint Leo’s Dining Services also now turns meat and vegetable scraps into stocks and soups or gives them to local farmers as feed for their animals.

Altogether, the university recycled 17 tons of material between January and October, including 1.7 tons of paper, 0.85 tons of plastic, 0.68 tons of aluminum and 13.77 tons of cardboard.

The university notes that its recycling efforts have conserved resources, saving 34,809 kilowatt hours of electricity; 206 mature trees; 108,290 gallons of water; 67 cubic yards of landfill airspace; and three metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

This story was adapted from the original article appearing on the Saint Leo University website.

Guilford College Ranks in Top 10 in RecycleMania Tournament

In a remarkable display of its commitment to recycling and reducing food waste, Sullivan Foundation partner school Guilford College ranked sixth in the Per Capita Classic, seventh in Food Organics, and 39th in Food Diversion in RecycleMania’s recent eight-week tournament.

So what is RecycleMania? “RecycleMania is a friendly competition between colleges and universities across the country and Canada that are committed to bringing awareness to recycling and waste on college campuses,” explained psychology major Kathleen Casperson.

Casperson’s work as an apprentice with Guilford’s Office of Sustainability led to her involvement with RecycleMania.

“Hana Malone, the student Coordinator of RecycleMania, and myself measured the waste and recycling dumpsters biweekly,” she said. “We entered this data into a spreadsheet, which calculated the number of pounds we were wasting versus recycling. Throughout the event, Hana and I tabled in Founders Hall to bring awareness to RecycleMania. Daisie Stewart, Sustainability Coordinator for Meriwhether Godsey (the Guilford dining hall), assisted in these tabling events by involving the cafeteria in our efforts toward sustainability.”

“My favorite part was the tabling events in Founders,” Casperson said. “One event we organized was using aluminum cans from the cafeteria and making herb planters out of them. We added compost, and students could choose from six varieties of herbs to plant in their can. While the students were potting their plant, we would talk to them about what can and cannot be recycled according to the North Carolina regulations. It was fun to see how excited the students were about this project, and I felt like it really encouraged an effort to live sustainably.”

Reducing food waste on college campuses is a major goal for Recyclemania.

Reflecting on how Guilford’s participation in Recyclemania aligns with Guilford’s core values, Casperson said, “This event encouraged community on campus because it called for direct action in an effort to reduce our carbon footprint. Recycling and reduction of food waste is imperative for the betterment of our entire community. It also encouraged students to act with integrity and responsibility by implementing sustainable practices.”

“Guilford does well in this competition partly because we make it pretty easy to recycle —with recycle bins next to landfill (bins) in nearly every location on campus, inside and outside,” said Director of Sustainability David Petree. “It doesn’t hurt that we live in an area that offers single-stream recycling. We don’t have to sort paper from plastic from glass and so on. Our numbers are very much helped by the fact that we compost nearly all of our food waste. Food waste is very heavy, and campuses generally create a lot of it. The competition is based on weights.”

David also said that, despite how well Guilford ranked in RecycleMania’s national competition, there’s a lot of work to be done. “It needs to be said that the competition assumes people always place recyclables in the recycling containers and trash in the trash or landfill containers. This is not the case here or most other places. When we do audits of our containers, we find contamination. During our recent student move-out, several recycling containers had to be hauled to the landfill due to the amount of contamination.”

This story is a slightly edited version of the original article on the Guilford College website.