After being recognized internationally for its recycling practices, students and administrators at the University believe there is still room for improvement.
Last year, UNC placed 25th out of 361 schools for the “Gorilla Prize” category for gross tons recycled in the RecycleMania competition.
The competition, which begins Sunday, tracks how many tons of trash and recycling schools in both Canada and the United States produce for a 10-week period.
“Hopefully we’ll place even better this year,” said Amy Preble, recycling and outreach coordinator in the Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling. “We’ve made some big changes.”
Since the last competition, UNC now accepts number 2 and number 5 plastic tubs, such as yogurt containers, she said.
Plastics found in research labs are now accepted, and there will be collection boxes in lab buildings.
Preble also said the competition helps to highlight the areas that the University excels in as well as the areas that need to improve.
“We recycle a lot, but we also produce a lot of trash as a campus,” she said.
“We have improved in the last decade, though.”
Despite an increasing campus population, UNC’s trash output per capita has steadily decreased during the last decade, Preble said.
“Our recycling rate is higher now than it was seven years ago,” she said.
“People are more interested in recycling and it’s becoming more of a habit.”
Preble said her department has promoted recycling to students through the Green Games with the Campus Y, as well as through posters in the dining halls.
She said making recycling more convenient for students will hopefully raise awareness and encourage students to recycle more often.
Student groups are also involved in the RecycleMania effort.
The environmental affairs committee of student government hosted a recycling drive last year for items that students often don’t know how to recycle for the competition, said co-chairwoman of the group Megan Gyoerkoe.
“RecycleMania is a way to help recycle as well as educate students and raise awareness,” she said.
Gyoerkoe said there has been a much greater response from students than in the past.
“People are gaining more awareness,” she said. “It has become a bigger issue.”
Burt Westermeier, the student coordinator for the sustainability living-learning community, said that some members of his group actively participate in the RecycleMania effort.
“We encourage recycling and that’s definitely something that we would like to see be successful,” he said.
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