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Northwestern Pitches In For Better Campus Recycling

Twenty-eight new and improved outdoor recycling/trash units are being installed in high traffic areas across the Evanston campus by the University's grounds crew. The project should be completed by this summer.

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June 4, 2008 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Twenty-eight new and improved outdoor recycling/trash units are being installed in high traffic areas across Northwestern University's Evanston campus by the University's grounds crew. The project should be completed by this summer.

The recently purchased containers were prompted by a formal proposal issued by the Associated Student Recycling Cooperative (ASRC), a Northwestern student group, as a way to enhance the University's recycling and maintenance efforts in its initiative to be a leader in sustainability.

"The containers that were chosen will increase recycling visibility and participation as well as provide consistency in containers used and seen across campus grounds," said Julie Cahillane, manager of recycling and refuse. "The students also proposed a volunteer student cooperative that would empty the recycling bins during the school year. This second aspect they see as a way for students to have some ownership for campus recycling efforts and engage the general student population through this connection."

Each of the durable, stationary new black steel corrals is comprised of three connected bins – one for trash, one for paper and one for cans and bottles recycling. Unlike the existing singular units on campus, the new bins are permanently grouped together and are clearly labeled. In addition to labeling, the recycling sections have lids with restricted openings indicating what goes in each bin. There is a circular opening in the lid for cans/bottles collection and a rectangular slot in the lid for paper.

"The outdoor recycling bins that the University was using were outdated and not very effective," said senior Rachel Patten, one of the three students involved with the project. "Often they were contaminated with trash. We were worried that this was perhaps fueling students' distrust of the recycling program. By investing in new bins and establishing a partnership between students and Facilities Management, we hope to spread a 'culture of conservation' and recycling on campus."

Patten, who is studying social policy at the School of Education and Social Policy, is looking for a job in the public interest and environmental field. The two other students involved in the project are Colin Carney, a Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in earth and planetary sciences who plans to move on to a career in climate science; and Yoni Dolev, a junior studying industrial engineering and management science in McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science who is considering a career in recycling or waste management. The students worked closely with Facilities Management, Associated Student Government (ASG) and Student Affairs.

"This is just the start of student/administration sustainability collaborations," added Patten. "Becoming a more sustainable University is important to both administrators and students alike, and this is the perfect arena for both sides to work together to bring about the most positive change."

Recycling not only is energy efficient, it prevents wastes from being deposited in landfills and reduces greenhouse-gas emission.

Northwestern recycles more than 1,500 tons of trash each year. Items that are recycled include brochures and flyers, white and colored paper, envelopes in all colors, glossy magazines and catalogs, telephone books, junk mail, manila file folders, newspapers (including inserts), corrugated cardboard, paper ream wrappers, Post-It® notes, aluminum and steel cans, glass bottles and jars, and plastic bottles.

For more information on Northwestern's recycling efforts visit www.northwestern.edu/fm/operations/recycling.
Topics: University