March 15, 2012 — The Grounds are getting greener, and it's not because of springtime. Thanks to support from Alcoa Foundation and partners, the University of Virginia will launch a new recycling effort in its residence halls.
The University will receive 1,584 new recycling bins through an arrangement with the Alcoa Foundation, in partnership with Keep America Beautiful and the College and University Recycling Coalition and in support of the RecycleMania competition. Added to this will be 750 more bins purchased through a Green Initiative Funding Tomorrow grant.
"This is a major benefit to the University because it will allow us to create a network of recycling containers in the residential areas," said Bruce "Sonny" Beale, director of the University's recycling program.
The Alcoa containers, valued at about $7,500 in total, are small, general-purpose bins designed for residence hall rooms or offices. They will replace older, bulkier recycling containers that were installed in the residence halls in 1995. Beale said the new, stackable containers take up less floor space and make it more convenient for students to source separate recyclables. He said the containers will go into student rooms in both the Alderman and McCormick road residence halls.
"We anticipate these containers will increase recycling by 15 to 20 percent," Beale said.
A recent student-conducted survey found that an average of 2,086 pounds of bottles and cans and 1,929 pounds of paper from those residence halls are being recycled each week.
Beale said his department is also receiving $3,750 from a Green Initiative Funding Tomorrow grant to be used to purchase 750 more recycling bins. He said by having more convenient recycling containers will encourage students to recycle more.
"This a great start for an evolving program," Beale said.
Nationwide, the Alcoa Foundation and Keep America Beautiful are distributing about 20,000 recycling bins to 33 schools participating in the RecycleMania competition. Recipients have the option to use the recycling bins in different on-campus settings – student housing, athletic facilities, academic buildings, administrative offices and outdoors.
"Our continued support of RecycleMania is designed to ignite real change, and to achieve one thing: dramatically higher recycling rates," said Beth Schmitt, director of recycling programs for Alcoa. "Through the recycling bin grant program, we want to encourage a social shift toward recycling on college campuses. We want to show 'millenials' that recycling is not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do, and it's something they should be in the habit of doing long after they leave college."
The RecycleMania competition seeks to increase recycling and reduce waste on college campuses as 630 schools vie for recognition in nine categories. The contest runs through March 31.
The Keep America Beautiful partnership further reinforces Alcoa's and the Alcoa Foundation's commitment to increasing recycling across communities. Alcoa has set a goal to increase recycling rates in the U.S. to 75 percent by 2015. A report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pegged the rate at 34.1 percent in 2010.
Since 2008, Alcoa has distributed nearly 150,000 recycling bins, launched the Make an Impact program to help families live more sustainably, developed the free "Aluminate" recycling application and, in the last five years, invested nearly $4.5 million in community-based recycling programs.
– by Matt Kelly