January 24, 2007

'Don't be a dirty dawg, recycle!' SIUC to compete in 'RecycleMania'

by Tim Crosby

rmlogoCARBONDALE, Ill. -- Don't be a dirty dawg, recycle!

Officials at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will hammer that message during an unprecedented campus recycling campaign during the next 10 weeks. For the first time, SIUC will participate in RecycleMania, a competition among colleges and universities nationwide to reduce waste and preserve resources.

Starting Sunday, Jan. 28, the University Recycling Program will work to raise awareness of the many opportunities to recycle materials on the SIUC campus. At the same time, SIUC will compete with 201 other campuses nationwide — including seven others in Illinois — to collect the most pounds of recyclable materials per capita.

"We're in it to raise awareness," said Andilee Warner, recycling and solid waste coordinator for SIUC. "RecycleMania is a tool to get our people engaged and excited."

Started as a friendly intrastate competition between Ohio State University and Miami University, RecyleMania is now a nationwide opportunity for the colleges and universities to increase waste reduction. Campuses can choose from several events, and SIUC is participating in two this year.

The first one, known as the Per Capita Classic, measures the amount of recycled material schools gather in ratio to the number of people on campus. Using a particular formula, which takes into account full-time and part-time students and employees and those who live on and off campus, SIUC's campus population for the purposes of the contest is a little more than 17,000, Warner said.

Warner said the University also will enter its successful vermicomposting program in the Targeted Materials portion of RecycleMania. The program involves some 2 million red wriggler worms munching daily on about 1,200 pounds of food service waste, resulting in rich fertilizer and less solid waste.

Recycling efforts at SIUC date back to 1977, but the current program is the result of the Illinois Solid Waste Management Act of 1990, which mandated all state universities develop a recycling plan by 1995. Plant and Service Operations administers the University's program, which includes all campus buildings. The campus recycles about 900 tons of potential solid waste each year, Warner said.

In general, recycling efforts on campus divide materials into two categories: fiber-based, such as all sorts of paper products, and containers such as plastics and aluminum cans. Receptacles for such items are located throughout the campus and are picked up once per week and delivered to Southern Recycling Center in Carbondale.

Each week during the contest, RecycleMania will post the participating campuses' recycling numbers on its Web site. You can link to that site and learn more about SIUC's recycling program at http://recycle.siu.edu/recycle.

Warner said she is planning a host of activities designed to raise awareness and participation in campus recycling. On Fridays, for example, Warner and her assistant, Denise McClearey, plan to conduct spot "inspections" of offices around campus to measure the level of recycling occurring there.

"If you don't have anything in your garbage can that can be recycled you'll get a nice coffee mug," Warner explained. The mug will bear the "Don't be a dirty dawg" slogan.

"We just want people to think before they throw. Be aware of the existing opportunities to recycle and use them," Warner said.

In addition to simply increasing awareness and the amount of recycling on campus,

Warner and McClearey acknowledge wanting to come out on top, especially among Illinois schools. Those schools include Augustana College, City Colleges of Chicago, Eastern Illinois University, Illinois State University and Western Illinois University, among others.

"It's true we'd like to kick their butts," Warner said.

Jackson County Health Department and Burris Disposal are helping sponsor the effort and Southern Recycling is assisting by providing weekly weight totals during the contest.