By Catherine Bonke
The start of the Spring semester has brought another season of RecycleMania to Stony Brook University. For the next eight weeks, colleges across the U.S. and Canada will take part in the annual contest to encourage recycling and waste reduction on university campuses.
Last year, Stony Brook triumphed as the number one recycler of electronic waste — a title it doesn’t intend to lose.
“Without this event, recycling is recycling,” said James O’Connor, director of Transportation and Parking Services and a staff leader of RecycleMania at Stony Brook. “Participating in this event jazzes it all up.”
Universities tally the amount of recycling and trash collected during the eight-week period. Rankings are then determined based on which schools recycle the most per person, have the best recycling rate overall and have the lowest amount of waste production.
To enhance its intake of e-waste this year, the university has added new receptacles including a special slot for printer cartridges, cell phones, batteries and other electronic parts. During RecycleMania, the Office of Sustainability will also pick up larger e-waste items from homes, dorm-rooms, academic departments and businesses for free. Interested parties are encouraged to call (631) 632-4640 for further information.
Stony Brook’s e-waste is recycled through Nassau County’s AHRC e-Works, a program that helps adults with developmental disabilities gain vocational skills as well as a job breaking down the waste.
There is also an environmental and economical benefit that comes from company involvement. Businesses like e-Works give money back to the university for the usable parts salvaged in the e-waste breakdown process.
“It obviously does have a positive impact,” said Roger Carson, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering. “I just don’t think it’s appreciated enough on our campus.”
Communication and advertisement through banners, posters and press releases were the driving forces of last year’s RecycleMania success, O’Connor stated. For this year’s competition, the RecycleMania staff hopes to build on that communication and educate more students about recycling.
“A lot of students have a casual knowledge about it, but are not engaged,” O’Connor stated. “They need to know how many things can actually be recycled.”
While paper is the most common item, Stony Brook offers several different ways for students to recycle all types of plastic, cans, clothes, athletic shoes, electronics, construction supplies, office supplies and even surprising items, like lightbulbs. Stony Brook’s Recycling website states, “When in doubt, put it in a recycling bin.”
By increasing the number of indoor and outdoor receptacles and showing students how easy it is to recycle, Stony Brook hopes to achieve the same level of RecycleMania success as last year (in which it was the first SUNY school in the Gorilla category, recycling 526,733 pounds of total waste and 120,302 pounds of e-waste).
Stony Brook’s progress is logged on RecycleMania website every week.