Temple recycling efforts bring
2006 Waste Watchers Award
Temple has won the Pennsylvania Waste Watchers Award in Philadelphia County for a project improving recycling at Tuttleman Learning Center as well as programs educating the Temple community about recycling.
Every year, a consortium of recycling management associations grants this award to local communities in Pennsylvania that have made a significant contribution in recycling, composting, and waste reduction and reuse efforts in the previous calendar year. This year, Temple is on the map.
Before spring 2005, the recycling program at Tuttleman Learning Center suffered from two major problems: 1) food waste was overflowing from the recycling receptacles, and 2) aluminum and glass were being cross-contaminated with plastic food containers, Styrofoam and other trash. To fix it, Temple’s Recycling Office developed an action plan to restructure recycling in Tuttleman.
At the same time the project was getting under way, senior Jeff Taroski, a Johnson-Hardwick RA who is passionate about recycling, was hired as a Recycling Program technician to coordinate the development of new graphic designs for the recycling containers throughout Tuttleman. He collaborated with the Student Graphics Media Center to design three illustrations designating ALUMINUM, PLASTIC and GLASS. In addition, the Recycling Office placed waste receptacles clearly marked “FOOD WASTE ONLY” in the same area as recycling containers to make disposal easy and reduce cross-contamination of recyclables.
By improving the signs, separating waste disposal from recycling, and simplifying terminology and procedures, within only a few months an estimated 1,000 pounds of used beverage containers — including plastic, glass and aluminum — was being recycled.
The Recycling Office often partners with other campus offices and departments to improve recycling awareness and strategies. Students too are invited to actively participate in program operations, educational outreach and program development.
For example, last spring, students enrolled in the “Environmental Studies Program Senior Seminar” reviewed and assessed waste management and recycling operations. Their findings are published in Temple University, 2005 Sustainability Assessment: Consumption and Waste, available at www.temple.edu/env-stud.
The Recycling Office also has established a formal internship with the Environmental Studies Program that allows students to test and analyze various environmental sustainability techniques. The Recycling Office’s first intern, environmental studies major Tomoe Denda, coordinated a project to restructure recycling in the lobbies of Anderson and Gladfelter halls. While the end product — new graphic signs — is similar to the award-winning Tuttleman project, in this project Denda began by sampling and characterizing contents of recycling and waste containers. She also administered a survey to measure student perceptions and actions about recycling. The investigation helped Denda create an effective strategy for clear, useful signs.
“My goal at Temple is to take recycling beyond a service and to institutionalize it through educational endeavors — transforming it from an informal process to formal relationships,” said Senior Facilities Specialist Marshall Budin. “Temple acts as a social laboratory where students and other environmentalists can test recycling strategies to see if they really work.”
Overall, Temple has an impressive scorecard for waste reduction in 2005:
— More than 800 tons of basic materials were collected from Main Campus and the Health Sciences Center, avoiding more than $80,000 in waste collection and disposal costs.
— An estimated 200 tons of post-consumer food waste from the Johnson- Hardwick cafeteria were picked up by a local farmer and converted into animal feed.
— Leaf collection on Main Campus was outsourced to a contract vendor, and 15 tons of leaves were removed and composted at their facility.
— Recycled 754 tons of paper and cardboard; 55 tons of plastic, glass and aluminum beverage containers; and diverted 97 tons of used computers from the waste stream.
This year, Budin hopes to further cultivate recycling services into an institutionalized program at Temple, calling upon the fresh ideas of environmentally aware students and forging partnerships with recycling vendors throughout the region. A Recycling Center intern, Jessica Wyckoff, will work this semester with the Office of Housing and residential life to improve recycling container signage and outreach materials in the dorms.
— Erin Cusack
For the Temple Times