The http://www.lmu.edu/sites/Community_home/green/Recycling___Waste_Management.htm"> LMU Recycling and Waste Management Program placed fourth out of 391 schools in the 2011 http://www.recyclemaniacs.org/">RecycleMania competition this past week. According to the RecycleMania website, in coordination with the College and University Recycling Council, RecycleMania is an annual competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities on their campus.
Participating colleges and universities self-report recycling and trash data over a 10-week period; they are then ranked according to various categories. These divisions include grand champion, per capita classic, waste minimization and targeted materials. LMU recorded a cumulative recycling rate of 67.32 percent and placed fourth in the grand champion division. This division is for universities demonstrating the greatest achievement in both source reduction and recycling. In the targeted materials category, specifically bottles and cans, LMU placed third with 11.33 pounds of bottles and cans per person. This beat LMU’s previous ranking of 11th place two years ago.
Manager of Facilities and Waste Management Bill Stonecypher began the Recycling and Waste Management Program at LMU in 1990.
The University’s recycling takes place on campus, near the Facilities Management building. Seven http://www.lmu.edu/studentlife/student_leadership_development/About/Student_Worker_Program.htm"> student workers
and seven full-time staff members work in the Recycling Center. Students work between 20 and 30 hours a week, but the work and long hours do not bother some student workers. “Most student workers, after they’ve left the yard, miss working here. I know I’m going to miss it,” said Brianne Zapata, a sophomore biology major and current student worker in the Recycling Center.
Other student workers have personally grown while working at the Recycling Center. Juliana Cadena, a freshman communication studies major, said, “I’ve learned a lot of things back here, I’ve learned to do things I never thought I could do. It’s a really humbling experience.”
However, work sometimes turns into play for the student workers when interesting things are found in the recycling bins. “There are definitely some interesting things we find in these bins. Maybe I’ve even given my sister a purse I’ve found back here. It was in great shape!” said Zapata.
In addition to purses and the occasional surprise opossum, academic supplies are hardly a shortage. Cadena said, “We never have to buy school supplies, that’s for sure. People leave perfectly fine notebooks, even textbooks that were supposed to be returned to the bookstore. In the past, some student workers have sold them on Amazon and actually made a pretty penny.”
Part of the success of the Recycling Program depends on students’ education about sustainability. Cadena explained how many things are placed in the recycling bins that are unable to be reused. “There’s not much education about what’s really recyclable at LMU,” said Cadena. “But you can’t really blame the students because there are things that I thought were recyclable until I started working here.” Pizza boxes are one of the most common non-recyclables at LMU, due to the contamination caused by grease stains. However, there are improvements being made to increase awareness on campus. “One of our goals for next year is to make sure students are more aware of the Recycling Program by putting information about recycling and how to do it on campus, in things like the freshmen orientation booklets or student handbooks,” said Director of Plant Operations Michael Lotito.
The vision for next year also includes relocation from its current space near the Facilities Management building to Drollinger. Construction will begin after commencement on May 7. Though the relocation is not expected to change efficiency, Lotito is unsure of LMU entering the competition next year. “Next year is a transition year, and we have to get our feet stable. Our main goal is to get moved, and to get comfortable in our new space. Hopefully we will be ready for RecycleMania by then,” said Lotito.
Nonetheless, recycling on campus still remains an important aspect of LMU for both students and faculty. “I’m not a huge tree-hugger or anything like that, but recycling is such a no-brainer. Put your trash, whatever it is, in the right bin, and do your part,” said senior accounting major Dylan Solis.
Fernando Gonzalez, head of the Solid Waste and Recycling Program on campus, said, “To me, it really shows that we are one of the universities trying to be a greener school. Yes, we’re doing our job and getting paid for it, but we’re also giving back.” Recycling also provides reimbursements that help keep tuition lower.
Students who are interested in becoming involved with the Recycling Program on campus are encouraged to apply for available work-study jobs. Visit the Recycling Center’s website at lmu.edu/green for events, job opportunities and applications.