Thanks to the University of Miami’s Green U initiative and because of new technology at local landfills that separate recyclable items, students will no longer need to place bottles, cans and paper products into separate containers.
“Before, everything was segregated. For instance in the residential towers and the village, the containers held only bottles and cans,” said Ken Capezzuto, director of Environmental Health and Safety for the university and a member of the Green U taskforce. “Now, we’ve converted it into single stream so you can put things like phone books, magazines and cereal boxes into the same containers as everything else. We can capture a lot more that would normally go into the trash.”
As part of the program, the university is pairing concrete recycle bins with more than 160 trash cans across campus to create recycling centers for bottles and cans at spots with high traffic throughout the day.
“We’ve placed them so that they’re next to each other and students can dispose of bottles and cans properly,” Capezzuto said.
Since the start of the Green U program in 2005, the UM students, staff and faculty involved have been working hard to make the university more eco-friendly. The Green U taskforce works with Student Government and various campus organizations such as Earth Alert and Sustainable U to implement eco-friendly initiatives around campus.
Senior Megan Fast, the president of UM’s Earth Alert, an environmental organization, believes this new initiative is a step in the right direction.
“As soon as students realize what’s going on, I think they will be more than willing to recycle anything they can. Education is definitely needed though, and that is what Earth Alert, Green U and all the other environmental organizations are working on,” she said.
There are signs of the new initiative all over campus. The purchasing department has sponsored a toner and battery recycling drop-off in the UC, the residential colleges have battery drop-offs at the front desks and the libraries and computer labs now have recycling bins for paper.
“Now that there are visible ways to recycle everywhere on campus, we have no excuse not to,” sophomore Brittany Casey said.
Since former vice president Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth garnered attention, students have begun to see the danger in ignoring the environment. This is shown by UM’s involvement in Recycle Mania, a competition between 200 universities nationwide to compare waste and recycled materials.
“I truly think that people are realizing environmental changes don’t have to be drastic, that little steps in one’s daily life can lead to bigger changes,” said Ian McKeown, who works as a liaison between the university and the director of Environmental Health and Safety.
According to McKeown, the taskforce is getting ready to start the second phase of this upgrade. The upgrade consists of creating recycling centers at the places that have less foot traffic and converting the office recycle containers into single stream containers too.
“Of course this goes beyond recycling, but it’s a start,” McKeown said.
What You Can Recycle:
-Aluminum/plastic food and beverage containers (without food & caps)
-Unbroken glass containers
-All bottles and cans (empty, without caps)
-Empty cereal boxes and shoeboxes
-Paper/mail/printer & copier paper
-Shampoo bottles, etc. (empty, without caps)
Do Not Recycle
– Food and wet trash
-Tissues, paper towels that had food contact
-Mirrors/window or auto glass
-Glass cookware/pots and pans