By Emerson Andrews, Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund coordinator
Glass recycling has arrived at the University of Utah thanks to the combined efforts of three students, Facilities Management and the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund, or SCIF.
Fifty bins will be placed in buildings during the beginning of the spring 2017 semester and available for use by students, faculty and staff. At least one glass recycling bin will be placed in all major buildings across campus with a few extra in high-traffic places like the Union and Marriott Library.
While taking Global Changes in Society, a course offered by the Global Change & Sustainability Center, GCSC, three environmental humanities graduate students proposed a glass recycling pilot project. Jennifer Lair, Nicole Cox and Carissa Beckwith wanted to implement an on-campus glass recycling bin program utilizing the Momentum Recycling facility in Salt Lake City.
They took their idea from the classroom straight to Facilities Management and the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund. Joshua James, the university’s campus recycling coordinator, provided both the support and knowledge to implement glass recycling on campus. He helped students develop a plan that could make glass recycling a continued service with space to grow.
“We had a great opportunity open up with Momentum making a glass recycling facility in town,” James commented.
Once the plan was in place, it was a matter of finding the money to pay for it. The students secured the support of both SCIF and the GCSC to raise the $10,000 necessary for the project. These funds were used to purchase bins, install them on campus and develop a schedule for collection and drop-off. This project illustrates the power of a resource like SCIF in the hands of students.
“The GCSC class provided us with the time, space and support we needed to propose and implement the glass recycling initiative on campus,” Beckwith commented. “SCIF funding was instrumental to kick-starting this project.”
If the bins work well, the glass recycling program will grow in the future. It is important to remember that glass can only be recycled in the glass recycling bins — glass in other recycling bins presents a hazard to custodial staff.
“It’s important to continue to develop the program. But in order to do that, people need to make sure that glass goes into the correct bin.” James continued, “Glass going into the normal recycling stream could cause a lot of problems.”
These bins are only big enough for faculty, students and staff to recycle glass acquired here on campus. If people would like to recycle their glass from home, there are two public drop-off bins: One bin is located by student housing in Fort Douglas, and the other is located just off of Guardsman Way.
“I hope that glass recycling on campus catches on quickly with students, staff and faculty,” Beckwith concluded. “It is an easy action that can provide a huge payoff for the planet!”
Interested in developing a SCIF project? Go to sustainability.utah.edu/scif to learn more about the application process and review grant deadlines for the spring semester.