11/17/15 ASHLAND, Ohio – The Ashland University Recycling Department held its annual Waste Audit earlier this fall, which showed that about 75 percent of the campus trash sample was recyclable material.
“We started the audit in 2010 hoping to raise awareness for recycling and to highlight how much of the trash thrown away can actually be recycled,” said Peggy Kohler, who is director of building services and oversees recycling on campus.
“This year, to pinpoint exact locations, we actually have bags labeled for each building and their floors, not to shame them, but to help them improve their recycling habits,” Kohler said. “This year, the audit was done to full scale with every building, except the residence halls, on campus being evaluated for how much recyclable material ended up in their trash. Trash was labeled for each building as well as each floor in the building to ensure precise locations for the results. This is an improvement from last year when only five campus buildings were audited.”
The audit itself was done by Ashland University Recycling student employees and by Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity members, who volunteered their time to help with the event. The audit itself lasted an hour with the recycling and trash being sorted separately and weighed.
In total, there were 452 pounds of trash picked up and sorted through for the event, with about 337 pounds, or about 75 percent, being recyclable material.
While this is just a small sample size of the trash on campus, Kohler said she believes there is plenty of room for improvement on campus.
“Often times the results are due to the lack of awareness for what can and can’t be recycled,” she said. “Some people don’t completely understand what we can and can’t take so often times there are situations like this where recyclable material ends up in the trash.”
The lack of awareness is apparent, however, as there were five campus buildings with more than 90 percent recyclables in their trash compared to just two buildings with less than 50 percent recyclables.
Kohler said the results of the audit fluctuate every year with some years showing positive results and then other years, like this year, demonstrating the need for more recycling awareness on Ashland’s campus. Last year, of the five buildings sampled, there was only one building that had a recyclable material percentage of more than 50 percent.
The recycling department operates around the entire campus and helps the University save money and increase revenue.
Since June, 44 percent of the materials thrown away have been recycled totaling 77,725 pounds of recycled material. The recycling department has made $3,861 in revenue in those four months as a result of their efforts, with $4,040 in landfill cost avoidance.
Ashland University Recycling seeks to find new and creative ways to its message out, and their active involvement on campus seems to be working well. Find out more information about the department by liking its Facebook page, Ashland University Goes Green.
Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2016, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###