Before tossing a soda can into the regular garbage bin, consider putting it in a container with Temple’s 23 tons of weekly recyclable material.
The addition could help Temple win this year’s RecycleMania, a 10-week program geared toward increasing recyclable materials collected per capita on a college campus. Students for Environmental Action, the only student-run environmental organization on campus, and Facilities Management are organizing the initiative.
“The goals of RecycleMania are to increase awareness about recycling and to increase the gross amount of recyclables collected,” SEA President Laura Stein said. “By making it a competition, it gives students a reason to recycle.”
The competition, which ends April 7, will also raise awareness about environmental issues both on campus and in the community, said Stein, a sophomore environmental studies and tourism and hospitality
management double major.
According to recycling manager H. Marshall Budin, even without the competition, Temple does a significant amount of recycling. With collection happening at least twice a week, Temple racks up quite a few tons of recyclable material, he said.
Throughout the week, Temple recycles 15 tons of paper, five tons of recyclable material from the Johnson and Hardwick Cafeteria and three tons from the Student Center, which totals at least 23 tons of material each week, Budin said.
One of the goals of Temple’s RecycleMania is to increase the number of recycling bins in the dorms, Stein said. But even that is not the way to increase collection, she said.”The problem isn’t the lack of recycling bins, but that people don’t know what to recycle,” Stein said.
Items like food and beverage containers made out of glass, aluminum cans and newspapers can all be recycled, Stein said, adding that recycling these items will not only help Temple win the contest, but will also ease the damage being done to the environment.
“Recycling doesn’t produce as many carbon emissions and is much safer and more efficient for the environment,” Stein said. Facilities Management is working with the Office of Housing to brainstorm ways to get students more interested in recycling, Budin said.
One idea is to create door hangers for the residence halls that will identify for students all recyclable items, Budin
said. Temple Student Government plans to fund the project, he said.
“TSG is also pushing to make continued recycling a full Temple University movement,” said Stein, who is the environmental committee chair for TSG. “We want this to continue in the long run, and not just for the competition.”
While RecycleMania is focused primarily on recycling generated on campus, SEA is working to promote off-campus recycling as well, Stein said. According to commercial recycling regulations in Philadelphia, all businesses in the city, including apartment and residential buildings, are required to offer and advertise recycling.
Sean Maxwell, a resident assistant at the Elmira Jeffries Residence Hall, collects recyclable materials in his room because he said the residence hall does not offer recycling.
“They claim that it’s too expensive and too much of a hassle to do the recycling,” the junior BTMM major said. “A lot of the students don’t recycle because they don’t have any place to put their recycling, so they just put it in the trash.”
Since the university leases Elmira Jeffries from property owner Philadelphia Management, the university has no way of forcing the owners to provide recycling.
“If Temple owns it, then we’re responsible for providing the recycling,” Budin said. “I have nothing to do with off-campus housing.”
Other off-campus housing complexes, including University Village, Oxford Village and the Edge, provide recycling
for their students.
Budin said he has discussed ways to recycle with property managers and owners of some of the buildings, particularly Oxford Village.
“I’m always available to share information and knowledge, but it’s the responsibility of the property management to provide recycling,” he said.
More than a month remains in RecycleMania, and students are becoming more interested, Stein said. The competition is a great tool to raise awareness about a serious issue, she said.
“Students come to me all the time asking about recycling on campus,” she said. “We feel we should start making changes in recycling to help the environment. The RecycleMania competition is helping us generate momentum for our goals.”
Chris Stover can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.