SLU ready to rumble in ‘Recyclemania’

Student deposits plastic bottle in one of the recycling containers located on SLU’s campus as a part of the University’s single-stream recycling program. Sam (Fangyu) / Staff Photographer

Student deposits plastic bottle in one of the recycling containers located on SLU’s campus as a part of the University’s single-stream recycling program. Sam (Fangyu) / Staff Photographer

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Competition highlights recent sustainability strides

Last year, SLU participated in the nation-wide contest, “Recyclemania,” for the first time, reaching fourth in the “Grand Champion” category, which determines a SLU’s recycling rate as a percentage of its overall waste creation in comparison with six other Missouri universities. This year, the competition has returned to campus as a way to show that SLU is committed to promoting recycling practices, Student Government Association President Matt Ryan said.

Student deposits plastic bottle in one of the recycling containers located on SLU’s campus as a part of the University’s single-stream recycling program. Sam (Fangyu) / Staff Photographer

“I think having SLU participate shows that we are committed to promoting greater recycling,” Ryan said, “and to bring attention to the need that we continue to promote sustainable practices.”

Recyclemania is an annual inter-collegiate event which takes place for eight weeks during the months of February and March, the official website reads. A not-for-profit organization, the competition intends to get students and staff to recycle more often and reduce waste, and has operated since 2001.

Ryan said that there is already a strong commitment to sustainability on campus, and that SGA can help empower these efforts.

“I believe that if Student Government can continue to be a catalyst for these efforts, there is great power in that. You will see some strong promotional and tangible efforts in the coming weeks,” he said.

On that note, water bottle filling stations have been installed around campus as part of an initiative by the SGA to reduce plastic usage and promote sustainability. Ryan said that the SGA wants to shift the SLU culture toward one that promotes reusable water bottles instead of the purchase of regular ones, he said.

“[It’s] because we’re seeing trends in other universities where water bottles are actually banned from campus altogether, or, the sale of them is banned altogether,” said Commuter Senator and Civic Affairs Committee Chair Elizabeth Alberty. In 2009, a soft ban of water bottles -no prohibition, but no sale- was ordered by the president of Washington University in St. Louis, but was received poorly by the campus’ students, according to Alberty. Instead, the SGA is taking a methodical approach to reducing water bottle usage by encouraging students to purchase reusable water bottles from the bookstore.

“We’ve spoken with Chartwells about potentially selling reusable plastic water bottles in the dining facilities here, and also to get more of those bottle filling stations on campus,” Alberty said, “Eventually, when we’re further into our contract with Pepsi and everything, we can look into doing an actual soft ban.”

SGA hopes it can garner support from the students before proposing such a ban, Alberty said. She said that the SGA wants to reflect the want of the students and keep a balance between promoting sustainability and “doing something that [the students] wouldn’t necessarily agree with.”

Along with Recyclemania and plastic bottle reduction, SGA is pushing for one recycling bin per every trashcan on campus. Alberty said that although SLU has doubled its recycling rates since switching to Waste Management, the campus only recycles one tenth of its total recyclable materials.

“The problem right now is budget issues,” Alberty said, “The budget in facilities is very tight so we can’t just go out and buy a whole bunch of recycling bins.”

Nevertheless, SGA is putting in requests to the administration for more recycling bins, and is looking for companies willing to give grant money for bins.

Furthermore, SGA is working on a bike-sharing program. Alberty said that the SGA created a taskforce headed by Marguerite/Pruellage Hall senator Ann Knezetic to look into creating the program.