Recycling, KSU style

Angelo Gargaro

Campus Environment and Operations meets students demands to make recycling easier and more common

Workers at the Portage County recycling center sort paper on a conveyer belt. GAVIN JACKSON | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Next time you are going for the 3-point buzzer shot with your empty bottle of Dasani, make sure to aim for the recycling bin.

Heather White, manager of Campus Environment and Operations, said recycling has become a demand from Kent State students.

“We are trying to grow with them. We’ve got a more savvy college population that is demanding it,” she said. “They grew up with it – my generation didn’t. But now when they arrive on campus, it is an expectation.”

Kent State’s recycling program was established in 1990. It is broken up into three sections: academic buildings, residence halls and dining services. Each section is run separately and has its own director. Campus Environment and Operations focuses on academic buildings.

IN 2007

Kent State recycled 579,755 pounds of material.

IN 2006

Kent State recycled

approximately 580,000 pounds.

IN 2005

Kent State recycled

approximately 555,000 pounds.

“Each, by being managed by three different directors, has the latitude to customize their program for what best fits their needs,” White said. “I would never think about food composting – we don’t deal with food.”

Kent State’s recyclables are sent to Portage County Waste Management as a single stream, which means glass, cans, cardboard and newspaper aren’t separated.

In 2007, Kent State recycled 579,755 pounds, up nearly 11,000 pounds from 2006 and 25,000 pounds from 2005.

“(Kent State) is showing some nice increases as people are becoming more aware,” Bill Steiner, director of Portage County Solid Waste Management, said.

Along with recycling bottles, cans and paper, Campus Environment and Operations reuses and recycles several other materials around campus.

“People don’t know how much recycling Kent State actually does and how much the university reuses other materials on campus,” White said.

One example is leaf composting. In the 40 acres of land behind the offices of Campus Environment and Operations, the groundskeepers turn and age all the leaves collected from campus.

“What it’s not doing is going to a landfill,” White said. “We’re breaking it down and returning it to this earth.”

Another method of reusing materials around campus is wood waste. Once a year Campus Environment and Operations will tough-grind all the woody waste and make mulch.

“Beside being efficient and reusing what we are taking off, we’re putting it back on,” White said. “We’re also saving money. We’re not buying mulch, and we’re not buying the additives that we want to put into the soils.”

University recycling coordinator Ryan Spellman said Kent State spends about $470,000 a year in removing trash.

To gain more knowledge on how much Kent State recycles, the university will hold a waste audit.

“You pick out five or six buildings throughout the campus, have an independent contractor come in, they’ll go through your waste and recycle stream and they will be able to analyze it and give you recommendations on what (the university) can do better,” Spellman said, describing the audit.

Craig Rosenthal, senior theater studies major, said he sees students recycle frequently.

“Since I have lived on campus so far this year, both Tri-Towers and Verder, every recycling bin that I have seen, both paper and plastic, have been filled every day,” Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal, who works at Rosie’s Diner in Tri-Towers, said there are a lot of places to dispose of recyclables.

“I really don’t pay too much attention to (students recycling), but I do notice that (Rosie’s) has a bin for plastic bottles and cans next to one of the trash cans,” he said. “I don’t know if people are using them, but I know they are available.”

One of the most visible things students can see being done by Campus Environment and Operations is the placement of new green cans with white and blue accents that say “recycle.”

“We just bought and put out five (cans),” White said. “They are very expensive, about $1,000 a piece. The majority are along the esplanade, and we do have one over by the new bus stop at Midway.”

Prior to the new recycling cans, Kent State didn’t have an outdoor recycling program. Now, they are placed next to the black trash cans so students can distinguish between the two.

Contact general assignment reporter Angelo Gargaro at [email protected].