Temple University Ambler has renewed its commitment to the environment with a new recycling program on the Ambler campus.
Ambler kicked off its Rush to Recycle challenge on Monday with a visit from the recycling coordinator of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recycling coordinator, Eric Thumma.
Seven members of Alpha Chi Rho fraternity, who dressed as recyclable items, and members of the Pennsylvania Consortium for Interdisciplinary Environmental Policy (PCIEP) also attended the opening rally.
According to the head of Temple’s recycling programs, Ken Murdter, Ambler’s program fell apart over the summer due to a loss of support from faculty and students.
The program was reinstated this fall, but graduate student and academic intern for the Center for Sustainable Communities, Susan Spinella, sought to improve the program.
After attending Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania convention, she was approached by the DEP, and felt that the Rush to Recycle program would work best.
The contest, sponsored by the DEP, challenges colleges and universities across the state that are members of PCIEP to increase their total tonnage of recycled materials.
42 colleges and universities currently participate in the program. The school with the largest increase in tons of recycled waste is rewarded with a press event and social promotion courtesy of the DEP.
Spinella says she is going to begin a literary campaign by sending mass e-mails and flyers to students to alerting them to their environmental responsibilities.
Kathy Hollman of PCIEP feels that this program will especially appeal to students because it “goes beyond the green.”
“Students think ‘recycle’ means aluminum, plastic, and paper,” Hollman said, “[but] it’s so much more.”
Various colleges and universities have recycled clothing, house wares and furniture by holding mass yard sales and donating profits to the DEP or campus philanthropic organizations.
Although the Rush to Recycle program encourages students and staff to recycle, Murdter, who oversees recycling on all of Temple’s campuses, feels that a program is not needed on Main Campus.
“As far as Philly schools go, [Temple’s Main Campus is] the best… numbers don’t lie,” he said.
Main campus’ recycling programs have won many awards, he said, including the Greater Philadelphia Commercial Recycling Award for recycling roughly 7,307,343 lbs. of waste between 1996 and 1998.
Main Campus has been recycling since 1989; there are separate programs for the academic and residential buildings that are tailored to the specific requirements of the two types of building.
Dormitories generate more aluminum, glass and cardboard while the offices’ main recyclable waste is paper. Paley Library alone recycled 43.1 tons of paper last year.
“We get gobs of beer cans each week [in the dorms],” says Murdter, “Hey, at least they recycle.”
Murdter says that students, although indoctrinated in an environmentally-conscious generation, forget about recycling because of the stress of their schoolwork.
However, he says, the biggest challenge is Temple work force, which he says are as environmentally savvy.
He says food waste frequently appears in office paper bins.
According to the Director of Housekeeping, Jeanie Arnsberger, Temple does much more than recycle glass, aluminum, and paper.
Temple refurbishes all its residential furniture, and old office furniture is salvaged and stored at the university surplus warehouse for future use.
In addition, all leaves and excess wood material are processed into the mulch that adorns campus flowerbeds.
The air circulating in all buildings is recycled and new “green lights” have replaced less energy efficient bulbs.
Food never goes to waste either; all scraps are sent to various farms for animal feed.
Katie Bashore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org