Clara Kirkvold, a first-year earth science major, was assigned a project in her sustainability class this fall. When looking around her North Complex dorm, she realized there weren’t resources for recycling on individual floors, so she decided to set a recycling bin in her kitchen. When it gets full, about once a week, she hauls it to the recycling center.
Kirkvold said the best way to recycle across campus is for individuals to take it upon themselves.
“Right now we kind of have grassroots recycling, there’s no university-wide policy, but everyone does it on their own anyway,” Kirkvold said.
That is set to change soon. The university is launching two recycling pilot programs after years of ‘grassroots recycling’ around campus.
Scott Pohlson, chair of the president’s committee on sustainability, said the pilot program will start on Feb. 27 and run five weeks, ending March 31. The program will run in Slagle Hall.
Slagle Hall was chosen by President James Abbott as the site for the program for multiple reasons, Pohlson said. Slagle is regularly visited by students and administration, and houses the IT department in the basement, so there’s a wide variety of recycling needs.
There will be four totes on each floor. One bin will be for number one and number two plastic items, one for aluminum cans, one for white paper and another for mixed paper.
Occupants of Slagle will also be surveyed as part of the pilot.
“Everyone in Slagle has been notified. They will get a survey before it starts,” Pohlson said. “They will get a survey in the middle and another in the end.”
Pohlson said if the pilot goes well, the next step would be to expand programs to the Muenster University Center and at I.D. Weeks.
“The first (place) that we would go to for sure, unless something goes really wrong in the pilot, would be the MUC and the library because that’s the highest traffic area for students,” he said. “We want to try a residence hall, and I think we want to try North Complex.”
Starting a program in North Complex, however, will prove challenging, as there are no elevators for totes to be transported. Pohlson said a program in North Complex would require a lot of work with students on finding a solution to get all waste to a main floor.
In addition to the pilot program in Slagle, the Sanford Coyote Sports Center is starting a pilot program this month.
The pilot started unofficially on Feb. 11 during the men’s basketball game against South Dakota State University.
“The reason we did it for the SDSU game is because that’s the biggest volume that we will see,” Pohlson said.
For recycling in the SCSC, Pohlson has been working with Dan Gaston, the senior associate AD for operations and facility management.
Gaston said 31 percent of waste was diverted through the green drops at the state game. Green drops are stations around the arena that have four bins for each type of recyclable.
“Thirty-one percent isn’t the greatest, but it’s a lot better than nothing,” Gaston said. “…We did a fairly good job without much participation.”
The SCSC has also implemented recycling bins in all locker rooms and office spaces as part of the pilot program. Gaston expects that to be a hot spot for recycling water and gatorade bottles.
“We have bottles and bottles and bottles,” he said.
The next step for the athletic department will be implementing recycling programs at other events like football games.
“The original pilot is to see where we can go,” Gaston said. “The next step would be football games. A football game is a lot different than a basketball game. You’re outside and then inside… It’s finding what can we do, what can the staff handle?”
Pohlson is excited for the results of both pilot programs, as waste management is much different at athletic facilities than on campus.
“Slagle is every day you don’t want to see any trash, and recycling. You want it gone that next day or at least under a lid,” Pohlson said. “Whereas athletics is, not that they aren’t busy all the time, but you could have bottles laying in the stands and they could come in and practice and that wouldn’t bother anybody, not that that’s how it works, but athletics is very big volume and then it dies down.”
While it has been and will continue to be a long process, Pohlson said he appreciates the patience of everyone involved.
“There is so much more to it than I originally thought, but everyone’s been really positive,” he said. “It’s refreshing to see community that wants to come together to see something that I think matters.”
Kirkvold is excited for the opportunities the pilot program will bring.
“I think it will be good, I wish there was more (recycling) in the dorms,” she said.