Voinovich School envisions zero waste possibilities through RecycleMania achievements

Alexa Smith
April 22, 2016

This article originally appeared on Ohio University Compass. To view the article in its original form, click here.

In the ten weeks spanning from early February into April, more than 200 colleges and universities competed in a nationwide recycling tournament, RecycleMania, all actively changing the way their school disposes of waste. As one of 208 participating institutions, Ohio University did not win the title, ranking 38th overall and fourth in the state, landing within the top 20 percent in the nation. OHIO did however discover just how capable it is to shift attitudes regarding recycling and waste disposal.

In pursuit of the one million pound goal, OHIO developed several methods to maximize recycling and composting throughout the University. Over the course of several weeks, Ohio University Campus Recycling worked to encourage and educate students, faculty and staff about the possibilities for resource recovery within the institution. 

In addition to participating in the National GameDay Challenge, a contest in which schools attempt to divert the most waste produced at a single sporting event, one of OHIO’s primary projects, the Race to Zero Waste, consisted of converting one of the school’s colleges into a zero waste system. Through the implementation of composting and e-waste recycling opportunities, as well as efforts to reduce paper consumption, the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs saw nearly a 12 percent increase in waste recovery efforts, jumping from approximately 67 percent to nearly 79 percent recycling rates. This percentage indicates that almost 80 percent of waste produced within the three University buildings was diverted from the landfill and was instead recycled or composted.  

The Race to Zero Waste pilot indicates a path to future success in converting other University buildings. Over the past year, the entire University has experienced a similar increase in resource recovery, seeing the overall recycling rate jump from 38.3 percent to 49.63 percent in one year.

“This is the biggest one year jump that I’ve experienced in my time here,” said Ohio University Recycling and Zero Waste Manager Andrew Ladd.

In the past semester, Ohio University Campus Recycling has made extensive efforts to provide more recycling opportunities campus-wide, both indoors and out. As one of 39 nationwide recipients of the Waste Management/Keep America Beautiful Think Green Grant, Ohio University has been able to convert 70 outdoor landfill bins to recycling, including all locations on the West residential and College Greens.