The recycling program on campus is getting a makeover. A new endeavor by The University’s sustainability department has been prompted by some changes to recycling allowances made by Lackawanna County. More materials are now allowed to be recycled and The University has responded.
Some significant changes to the recycling allowances include cleaned plastic food containers, pizza boxes, plastic bottles with caps and yogurt containers. Lists with the allowed and restricted items will be placed around campus.
The two major components of this initiative include the actual improvement in the recycling system as well as education about recycling, so that students, staff and faculty are able to take advantage of the new accessibility.
The first area of focus in the recycling program is outside. Where every trash can is placed, a recycling can will be next to it. Once the weather warms up Director of Sustainability Mark Murphy plans to appropriately label the cans so that recycling can be easy for everyone on campus. Murphy said he does not want to make people change their habits, which he hopes to accomplish by having the cans together and labeled so it takes no more effort to recycle than to throw away.
“If [trash cans and recycling bins] were all next to each other, then more people would recycle,” junior Elise Chaffiotte said.
The University of Scranton crest will appear on the recycling labels. Murphy said he thinks this is an important detail to show the campus community that recycling is a group effort-that The University is committed to, which he hopes will make everyone feel accountable.
Murphy hopes to also have recycling bins in every room in the residence halls. In the apartment-style living, Murphy’s goal is to eventually have students take out recycling on their own to an area on the floor. Murphy wants students to make recycling a habit that they can continue with after graduation.
The marketing to spread awareness and motivation for the program includes educational presentations, informative posters and utilizing the various media forms The University has to offer, including the monitors throughout academic buildings.
An important component to the sustainability department’s initiative is getting the word out about the changes to recycling that many may not know. Murphy said that the department’s hope is to increase recyclable materials by 20 to 30 percent on campus through awareness.
Murphy wants to team up with the residence halls to emphasize the importance of recycling to students and how important it is to The University, the community and the environment.
The increase in recyclable materials means a decrease in the amount of products going to the landfill, which Murphy says is good for the environment and the budget. Murphy said the amount of garbage The University transports to landfills every year costs nearly $200,000. Murphy noted the benefit recycling will have in decreasing that dollar amount, as well as the environmental benefit that serves the purpose of recycling.
Murphy said that the main priority of the sustainability department is to educate the campus community. He sees a benefit in educating the more than 6,000 people that make up the campus community for the short term goals and, more importantly, for the long term goals. Murphy wants students to be able to take what they learn about sustainability here at The University with them to their future jobs and lives where they can educate others around them and give back to the community. Murphy wants the impact on students here to contribute to the worldwide sustainability effort.
“The most important thing is educating our community about being good stewards of our environment,” Murphy said.
The sustainability department emphasizes the importance of sustainability related to The University’s mission. Murphy related taking care of our planet and the campus community’s ability to be sustainable to the Jesuit mission for “social justice equality” and the ideal to “take care of God’s creation.”
Murphy pointed out that if The University community does not commit to sustainable efforts it cannot fully live up to it mission.
One reason Murphy cites for beginning the University’s renewed sustainability efforts with recycling is its reputation. The fact that recycling is one of the most public and a well-known method of sustainability is part of Murphy’s reasoning for feeling so strongly about its importance and implementation. Murphy wants recycling to be the beginning of many different acts of sustainability The University will embark on.
Contact the writer: