By SARA GIBONEY
KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney is making recycling a priority on campus.
The campus has 52 new outdoor and 77 new indoor recycling containers.
“As an educational institution, we should be a leader in recycling,” said Maggie Garcia, manager of custodial operations at UNK. “We should be educating the campus and the public. We owe it to the city because we are one of the biggest industries in the city. We should be reducing our carbon footprint.”
The UNK Facilities Department recently received a $26,182 Nebraska Department of Environmental Equality Waste Reduction and Recycling Incentive Grant. The funding allowed UNK to purchase the new indoor and outdoor recycling stations, a recycling truck, additional roll-off containers, temporary waste and recycling receptacles for events, educational materials and signage.
Garcia said students requested more recycling containers in the Nebraskan Student Union and in residence halls, which prompted the facilities department to begin evaluating recycling efforts on campus.
A key finding was the lack of recycling on campus. UNK currently produces 887 tons of total waste, with 107 tons – or 12 percent – of that waste recycled each year. UNK plans to increase its recycling on campus to 50 percent by 2025. Recycling on campus helps reduce waste disposal expenses, which helps lower the building operating costs, said Garcia.
In February, UNK began developing a sustainability plan with Verdis Consulting, an environmental and sustainability consulting agency in Omaha. The consulting firm helped the UNK Facilities Department determine what type of recycling receptacles to use on campus.
The new outdoor recycling containers feature a container for landfill items and a container for recyclable items.
Garcia said it is important to differentiate between trash and landfill items because people often consider recyclable material trash. “Anything you throw in the landfill container is going to have an impact on the environment,” she said.
UNK also created a Waste and Recycling Task Force to help support the Facilities Department in promoting recycling on campus. The task force consists of student representatives from the Residence Hall Association and Enactus – an entrepreneurship organization – and staff members from Residence Life, Business Services and the Facilities Department. The task force is working to develop educational materials on UNK’s recycling and sustainability efforts.
UNK will continue to participate in RecycleMania, a nationwide recycling competition at colleges and universities. Over an 8-week period each spring, colleges across the United States and Canada report the amount of recycling and trash collected each week and are in turn ranked in various categories based on who recycles the most on a per capita basis.
Those wishing to obtain additional containers for events should call the Facilities Service Desk at 308.865.1800.
ITEMS TO RECYCLE ON CAMPUS
Mixed office paper
Cleaned with water
Remove plastic or metal lids
No drinking or window glass
Empty can goodies
To go containers
#1, #2, #4 and #5 plastic (Check bottom of container for #)
Laundry detergent bottle
Film Plastic Bags
Plastic grocery and clothing store bags, bread sacks, and water softener bags.
Cardboard boxes, cereal boxes, pop cartons, pizza containers etc.