GW Brief: Recycling reigns on campus

GW received top honors in the Environmental Protection Agency’s RecycleMania 2007, a competition that challenges colleges and universities across the country to recycle and reduce waste as much as possible.

Participating schools collected recyclables and minimized waste over a period of 10 weeks and reported their efforts via weekly calculations.

In the Per Capita Classic, GW collected about 17 pounds of acceptable recyclables per student over the 10-week period. This effort led to GW’s rank of first place in the D.C. area, 40th place in the Northeast, and 80th place nationwide.

GW also participated in the waste minimizing contest and reduced its municipal solid waste to about 90 pounds per student. GW ranked first in the D.C. area, eighth in the Northeast and 29th nationwide in this competition.

The University owes much of its success in the competition to Green Move-Out, an event held last spring that encouraged students to donate unwanted belongings at semester’s end rather than throwing these items away. Director of communications for Green GW Maggie Desmond said the initiative garnered “several truck loads” of recyclable goods. Green GW is already working hard toward high achievement in RecycleMania 2008.

“We want to make (the recycling program) more transparent so people know exactly how it works and are confident that their recyclables are going to the right place,” Desmond said.

Another plan for high achievement in next year’s competition is developing consistency in GW’s recycling rate, which ranged from about 8 percent to about 35 percent with no clear pattern of fluctuation from week to week. RecycleMania 2007’s grand champion, California State University at San Marcos, had a weekly recycling rate of about 53 percent which rose as high as about 70 percent by the competition’s 10th week.

Executive Director of Green GW Casey Pierzchala said the biggest problem is the lack of recycle bins on campus. She hopes Green GW can work with the administration to get more recycle bins to the people who want to participate.

“Hopefully awards like these will show the student body that recycling on campus is meaningful,” Pierzchala said.

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