OSU improving recycling practices

Luuk Van Hoomisen

In the spirit of Earth Day, Oregon State University is ramping up its efforts to spread knowledge about all of the eco-friendly waste reducing initiatives on campus. More than just the recycling cans on every corner, OSU has been ahead of the curve on implementing composting programs, reusable containers and surplus collection.

According to Andrea Norris with Campus Recycling, the university’s recycling program is now more than 40 years old, having started on the first Earth Day in the 1970’s. OSU was one of the first universities in the nation to implement such a program. Corvallis was the first city in Oregon to have a curbside recycling program.

“Recycling is a great way to reduce our waste,” said Tim Andrade, a student worker with OSU surplus. “It’s good for the planet, and it helps keep our campus looking beautiful.”

OSU surplus is a group which collects resources that are no longer needed by the university and either resells them or disposes of them in an environmentally cautious way.

Any students who frequent university dining halls may be familiar with Eco2go, a program which provides the dining halls with orange food containers that can be returned and reused by University Housing and Dining Services.

The success of this program relies on students returning their containers to the proper receptacles, but according to some students, the containers are often not returned correctly due to a lack of information or effort.

According to Norris, OSU recycled an estimated 1,039.9 tons of potential waste, composted an estimated 1,407.2 tons of waste, sold an estimated 433.7 tons of material through OSU surplus and landfilled only 1,714 tons of waste in the 2014-2015 school year.

OSU has an estimated recycling rate of 62.7 percent. According to the EPA the national recycling rate for the year of 2013 was 34.3 percent, and according to the Oregon Department of Emission Quality, the state’s recycling rate for 2013 was 50.1 percent. This puts OSU ahead of both the state and the country in terms of waste reduction.

However, many students wonder if the university is doing enough when it comes to waste reduction on campus.

“Humans produce so much waste,” said Shannon Ritz, an environmental science major at OSU. “We are consumers and then polluters, and recycling is important to reduce our carbon footprint. Sustainability means to protect the environment, and to leave something behind for the next generation.”

Ritz added that while recycling is important, she would like to see students have more opportunities to compost.

“Our mission is to makes sure OSU has the resources it needs in terms of implementing sustainable practices,” said Sarah Chainey, digital media marketing student with the Student Sustainability Initiative. “And to make sure students have the knowledge to practice sustainable living in everyday life.”

The SSI encourages students who are passionate about recycling and waste reduction to contact them for information on how to get involved, and to recycle this paper when they are done with it.

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