Waste audit kicks off recycling program

Sarah Koenen & Shauna McKnight | News Co-Editors

As part of the process to obtain a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, Buena Vista University (BVU) has recently conducted a waste audit. BVU introduced new recycling bins and trash bins in the Estelle Siebens Science Center. In doing this, BVU hopes to educate everyone on campus about what is trash and what is actually recyclable.

For the audit, there was one week of recycling and trash collected from the Science Center. After it was collected, the waste and recycling was sorted and weighed. It was then divided into eight subcategories within trash and recycling. The total weight of trash was 135.7lbs, with the amount of actual waste at 79.9lbs. The amount of recycling that was placed in trash weighed in at 55.8lbs, and the amount of recycling in the actual recycling bins was only 23.9.

With those results, it would seem that the BVU community members need to be more educated and become more aware of what is and isn’t trash. Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Chair of the Sustainability Task Force Jill Rhea said it might also be a good idea to add small recycling bins to the classrooms.

“The ‘take home’ here is that we need to educate people about what is recyclable and what isn’t. We also think that adding small recycling bins to each classroom would help people recycle,” Rhea said.

Rhea also went on to explain what she hopes the future can bring and the goals that the task force hopes to reach in the future.
“Our initial goal for trash to recycling is about 50/50. Our numbers actually come pretty close to that if all the recyclables would have been in the recycling. In the future, we hope to reduce our production of waste, in general; so, we hope to get to a ratio of 25/75 [campus wide],” Rhea said.

Although the Science Center is the building that is working to obtain LEED certification, Rhea hopes it is just the first step for the ever-going-green BVU campus.

“Because the Science Center is the building working toward LEED certification, it happens to be the building we audited. However, this is a microcosm of our entire campus; we all need to learn about recycling and reduce the amount of waste we add to the landfill,” Rhea said.
The general manager of the recycling center clarified that a new system for trash and recycling in Storm Lake is actually different from the past. The trash doesn’t get sorted. So if recycling is put in the trash, it goes straight to the landfills. However, if recycling is put altogether, it does get sorted and then gets sold to different mills that process recycling.

“Finally, it would be great to remind students that we will begin campus-wide recycling after Spring Break. There will be bins in all the suites, all the residence halls, and all the buildings,” Rhea said.

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