February 06, 2008

SIUC competing again in national recycling contest

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale will continue its commitment to the environment during the next 10 weeks as it once again participates in RecycleMania, an annual competition among colleges and universities nationwide to reduce waste and preserve resources.

Andilee Warner, recycling and solid waste coordinator at SIUC, said she was proud but not satisfied with the campus' first entry in the competition last year. During that competition, SIUC collected the most overall tonnage among Illinois colleges and the University and came in second in the Per Capita Classic, which is based on how much recycled material a campus collects in relation to the number of people on campus.

"I think we did very well for the first year of participating," Warner said. "This year we need to be No. 1 in Illinois, and we have a lot more competition this year so we all need to participate.

"It's time for maroon to think green," she added.

This year's competitors include Augustana College, Lake Forest College, Millikin University, Monmouth College, Saint Xavier University, Eastern Illinois University, Illinois State University and Western Illinois University, among others.

The event started as a friendly rivalry between Ohio University and Miami University. This year, the national competition, which started Jan. 27 and concludes on April 5, includes 400 participating public and private schools nationwide, the most ever in the history of the event. It includes colleges and universities from 46 states, ranging from two-year junior and community colleges to Ivy League universities.

The institutions will participate in various events and categories that measure the effectiveness of their campus waste prevention and recycling programs. The even raises awareness on campus, which in turn helps those programs improve, Warner said.

This year SIUC will participate the Per Capita Classic and the targeted materials competitions.

The Per Capital Classic measures the amount of recycled material schools gather in proportion 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.

The targeted materials contest allows participants to compete for the most amount of paper, cardboard, bottles and cans it can collect for recycling. SIUC also will compete in the "food service organics" portion of the contest, using its vermicomposting program as its entry.

Winners get bragging rights and special awards made from recycled materials.

Although many colleges and universities have successful waste prevention and recycling programs, Warner said there is always room for improvement.

"We need everyone to participate," Warner said. "Find a recycling bin on campus. If you can't find one, call me or go to our Web site.

"Don't be a dirty dawg — recycle!" she said, "recycling" last year's slogan for the contest.

SIUC's recycling program dates 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 program generally divides 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.

You can look for updates on SIUC's progress each week on the RecycleMania Web site located at http://www.recyclemaniacs.org/universities.asp. You can find out more about SIUC's recycling and waste prevention program at http://www.pso.siu.edu/recycling/recycling.html or 618/453-8131.

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.