By Barbara Young
University of Wisconsin–Stout’s consistent blue color is going to need to be changed to green with the recent awards and changes coming to campus.
Over the past few years UW–Stout has taken part in the RecycleMania Tournament, with aims to reduce waste on college campuses. This year, UW–Stout took first place in the UW system for the first time and 24th in the competition amongst 474 colleges in the U.S. and Canada.
According to Kyle Mills, the 2013 to 2014 director of sustainability, “A huge part of that was the three bin system we have in place, taking trash bins out of classes and substituting trash, recycling and compost bins. The great support from dining services, faculty, staff and especially students was also a major factor in our accomplishments.”
In 2011 UW–Stout was producing 68 percent of its waste as trash. Today that number has been cut in half and currently rests at 31 percent.
“We really have a recycling/composting culture here on campus, and we know that because we didn’t have a massive advertising campaign,” Mills said. “Everyone just used the current system properly.”
In addition to decreasing the percentage of trash, UW–Stout increased the amount of compost from 10 percent in 2011 to 33 percent in 2014.
UW–Stout hopes to continue with these great results. The sustainability council just passed a new initiative called TerraCycling to enhance UW–Stout’s recycling abilities.
Initiatives are supported by the Environmental Sustainability Access Fund, which is a segregated fee from tuition that raises approximately $80,000 a year.
UW–Stout currently has two TerraCycle bins, one in the MSC and another on the third floor of Jarvis. These bins collect electronics and ink cartridges. There will be six bins placed around campus that students can throw reusable items that they normally must place in the trash.
“TerraCycle upcycles and recycles traditionally non-recyclable waste (including drink pouches, chip bags, toothbrushes and many more) into a large variety of consumer products,” stated the company’s website. “These products keep waste out of our landfills and contribute to a cleaner world.”
The TerraCycle program is sponsored by certain brands. The recycling company then accepts waste products from those brands, and the sponsoring companies pay for the repurposing of their products. Once the TerraCycle company receives the waste, they reuse them as materials to create items such as duffel bags, coin purses and shoulder bags.The proposal, made by the Greensense committee on campus, proposed joining four additional brigades. These brigades are Colgate, which accepts Colgate toothpaste tubes, caps, toothbrushes, toothpaste tube packaging and floss containers; the Scotch Tape brigade, which accepts plastic tape dispensers and plastic tape cores; the Tortillas and Tostadas bags brigade, which accepts tortilla and tostada packaging; and the LÄRABAR brigade, which accepts all packaging of their products.
It is hoped that the addition of these bins throughout campus will further reduce waste and improve UW–Stout’s impact on the environment. Keep going green UW–Stout, and always remember: reduce, reuse, recycle.