GVSU ranks top 25 in national recycling contest

GVSU ranks top 25 in national recycling contest

Ashlyn Korienek

To increase awareness of campus recycling and waste reduction, Grand Valley State University completed the national RecycleMania competition, recycling more than 195,000 pounds of materials.

During the 10-week event, which took place from Jan. 18 to March 28, hundreds of universities across the nation competed to see who could recycle and reduce the most waste. The competition held four primary competitions and four targeted material competitions.

“We averaged about 17,000 to 18,000 pounds of materials recycled a week,” said Janet Aubil, operations supervisor of facilities services at GVSU. “Unfortunately, the amount of trash is still a little bit higher, but our composting efforts helped us a lot this year.”

Aubil, who replaced Steve Leeser as the operations supervisor Feb. 1 during the competition, said GVSU participated in the grand champion, waste minimization and food service organics (composting) categories.

For 2015, GVSU placed first in Michigan and 24th in the nation for the grand champion category, which is based on total percentage of waste recycled during the competition.

In the composting category, GVSU ranked sixth in the nation and first in Michigan. This was a jump from last year’s placement, where GVSU ranked 29th in this category in 2014.

“We placed in the 20,000 students and above category, so we were up against some good-sized schools,” she said. “We wanted to prove that everyone can take recycling seriously and make it fun.”

Aubil said Campus Dining, Housing and Residence Life, the Office of Sustainability Practices, the custodial staff, the Student Environmental Coalition and Pew Campus operations helped further the competition.

During the competition, she said the recycling was counted weekly at the Kent County recycling center, while compost was taken to Spurt Industries in Zeeland, Mich. to be turned into topsoil.

Katie Torkelson, former president of the Student Environmental Coalition (SEC), said the SEC passed out flyers in the Kirkhof Center that listed recyclable and compostable items, and provided an environmental documentary screening to support RecycleMania.

“Many of the students we spoke with knew of RecycleMania, about the different types of waste and how Grand Valley’s waste stations worked,” Torkelson said. “This showed that awareness is definitely increasing.”

Aubil said the issue with recycling is that many students do not have a routine embedded into their everyday lives. She said students participate in recycling efforts toward the beginning of the semester, but by the end of the semester they lose focus.

“At the end of the semester their minds are on classes, and to concentrate on where to throw a coffee cup they just don’t care anymore,” she said. “I almost thought about shrinking down the trash cans or eliminating them, but we’re just not there yet.”

Students can help improve and continue GVSU’s sustainability practices by being aware of the environment and by getting involved with the SEC or other organizations on campus, Aubil said.

“Students should help monitor the containers and make sure their friends are recycling as well,” she said. “The more we can reduce the waste and recycle, the better Grand Valley will be all around.”

For more information on GVSU’s recycling program visit, www.gvsu.edu/facilitiesservices.