Waste Minimization main focus for RecycleMania

By Meagan Barbee

For the sixth year in a row, Glendale Community College will participate in the nation-wide RecycleMania competition Feb. 7 – April 2.

Pre-season began Jan. 24 and will continue until the start of the competition. During RecycleMania, participating colleges track the weight of all garbage and recycled waste per week. These numbers determine placement in any of eight different categories.

GCC’s main focus is the Waste Minimization category, in which they took seventh place in both 2014 and 2015. This category attempts to reduce total waste, including both garbage and recycling. “We’ve shifted our efforts from recycling to waste minimization. When all of the college presidents signed on for the ACUPCC – that’s the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment – there were seven tangible actions for sustainability, and action number seven was waste minimization. And part of that was to implement three strategies on your campus to reduce your waste, and the other piece was to participate in the waste minimization component of RecycleMania. So our new goal is to reduce waste and recycling. We want to see a total decrease in waste, so to see both numbers drop is success,” said Chanda Fraulino, GCC’s Recycle Program Coordinator.

The weight of garbage and weight of recycling are added together and divided by total number of students to determine how much waste is compiled per student each week.

This is the first year that the Environmental Club will be actively participating in RecycleMania, introducing more student-based involvement than in previous years.

“It’s hard to get people involved and out of their regular schedule. Everybody’s got their schedule, they want to stick to it, they’ve got homework, and I know it’s hard to do, but if you can just change the routine just a little bit by guiding in that direction, then hopefully it’ll stick,” said Michael Daugherty, president of GCC’s Environmental Club.

An increase in student awareness and involvement is an important component of continued success.

During a dumpster dive last semester, the Environmental Club discovered a large amount of trash mixed into the recycling bins.

“A big step would be for students to know what they can and can’t recycle on campus. And as a reminder, every single recycle bin in the classrooms has a circle decal on it with a list of what we can recycle,” said Chanda Fraulino.

Other efforts have been made around campus to improve success in the competition and to continue waste minimization throughout the entire year. The Zero Waste Program was implemented three years ago to help staff reduce their daily and weekly waste. A one gallon trash bin is attached to a seven gallon recycle bin as a reminder to reduce waste and focus more on recycling. Cups tend to be one of the largest factors of waste, so 32oz reusable cups are now for sale in the Palms Café and offer a discounted rate on refills.

Since the marketing departments have been consolidated, there is no longer a specific social media director to help during this event. This has led to a challenge in promoting RecycleMania, and an informal student survey showed that many students did not know what RecycleMania is or that GCC will be participating.

“We’re going to try to talk to people one-on-one, get people at our club fair next week, and then have a member willing to stand up in front of the group, that’s 30-50 people all at once. We’re going to get the social media started, but we don’t have a broad fan base yet, so we need to get people interested first and how to do that is face-to-face,” said Michael Daugherty.

RecycleMania pre-season is already underway, and the official competition will begin Feb. 7 and continue through April 2.

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