Univ. ranks high in recycling challenge

Annie Salamone

Since February, University students have been participating in a national recycling competition between colleges. As the contest approaches its last two weeks, Villanova remains in the fourth place spot with a total of 32.72 pounds per student. Recycle Mania will last until the end of April.

Three years ago, Ed Newman, the recycling and refuse manager of Ohio State University, was looking for a way to encourage students’ recycling habits.

Cashing in on the longtime rivalry between Ohio and Miami University, Newman, along with Stacey Edmonds of Miami University, came up with the first annual Recycle Mania, a 10-week contest in which the two adversaries competed to see who could accumulate the largest amount of recyclables over a 10-week period.

Three years later, the tradition continues, and includes the nation’s top 17 schools for recycling, including Villanova, Carnegie Mellon, Yale, the University of Arizona and Dartmouth.

Contest-acceptable recyclables, including junk mail, cans, books and cardboard are collected from all of the on-campus student facilities, including Villanova’s 18 residence halls, four dining halls and eight on-campus apartments.

Divided by Villanova’s 4,300 student residents, the collections for each week are measured per capita.

The university that places first receives a one-of-a-kind trophy made from recycled materials, as well as free half-page ads in the competing school’s newspapers.

The goals of Recycle Mania include heightening awareness of schools’ waste management and recycling programs as well as lowering the waste generated on-campus through reducing, reusing and recycling.

The University’s goals include a five percent recycling rate increase, over the current 25 percent. In addition, the University hopes to create a computer and electronic recycling program to make recycling as easy and efficient as possible.

In light of these University efforts to alleviate the tremendous impact humans have on the environment, the recent report announced by the New York City Independent Budget Office left Kaitlin Drummond, a senior, expressed concern over a report that concluded that, economically speaking, the costs of recycling outweigh the benefits.

The IBO’s Fiscal Brief said, “The main reason for the higher cost of recycling is that a truck on average picks up less recycling than refuse – although the cost of operating that truck on either a recycling or refuse run is the same.”

Taking into account the environmental benefits of recycling, Drummond was discouraged by the IBO’s claims.

“How can one conclude the cost of something when its benefits are immeasurable?” she said. “It seems that no dollar amount can compare to the priceless gains [of recycling].”

She added, “Currently, the recycling industry employs about 1.1 million people in the [United States] and has $236 billion in annual sales, much larger than either the mining or waste management and disposal industries. With support on state, federal and personal levels, recycling could help to boost the economy and satiate some of the need for jobs in today’s market.”

Kelly Doyle, president of the Villanova Environmental Group, agreed with Drummond, and felt that the remedy to the IBO’s financial problem is to encourage people to recycle more, not less.

“If we make it easier to do,” Doyle said, “and just put up basic signs reminding people where the bins are, I think people would be more willing to make a conscious effort [to recycle].”