CMU aims for more efficient recycling program

Carnegie Mellon uses 45 boxes of paper a day. In one year alone, that sums up to 11,500 cases, 57 million sheets, or 12 truckloads of paper. Bill Cravis’ artwork, “Printing to the Sky,” installed around the flagpole on the Cut last week, consisted of approximately 400 boxes, with each empty copy paper box originally containing 5000 sheets of paper; it represents only two weeks’ worth of paper used on campus.

Last year, Carnegie Mellon recycled 180 tons of paper, and the University recently participated in RecycleMania, a 10-week recycling competition to see which university can collect the largest amount of recyclables and have the highest recycling rate. RecycleMania has helped increase student awareness in recycling and waste reduction. By making recycling a fun yet competitive event, universities nationwide have participated in saving the environment by coming up with creative and collaborative ways to recycle on campus. The university that recycles the most wins. There are many ways to gain recognition, from designing posters to wining trophies.

Carnegie Mellon ranked 38th out of 45 in overall source reduction and recycling. In a recycling event, Carnegie Mellon ranked 53rd out of 87, collecting 17.68 pounds of recyclables per person. In another event to find the school producing the smallest amount of municipal solid waste, Carnegie Mellon ranked 27th out of 43 with 116.97 pounds of waste per person per ten-week period.

Barb Kviz, environmental coordinator for Facilities Management Services, stated, “I think there is room for improvements in our recycling program and welcome input from the campus community as to how we can improve the system.”

Although Carnegie Mellon is efficient in recycling, there are still many ways students and faculty can continue to improve recycling rates. The pay-to-print initiative for students has greatly reduced the number of paper printouts. Student and faculty are also asked to take their office paper to recycling bins conveniently located throughout the buildings on and around campus as well as in residence halls. Carnegie Mellon’s Environmental Practices Committee works on developing plans to expand environmental practice programs on campus.

Cravis said his artwork is “a campuswide collaborative public art work,” because the Carnegie Mellon community has contributed to each and every box that was on the Cut.

Carnegie Mellon continues to promote waste reduction and recycling. The University plans to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) requirements for all new construction on campus. LEED is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings.

Other activities on campus being initiated in order to promote green practices and enhance awareness of the environment include a student-initiated project to grow flowers on the roofs of such buildings as Hamerschlag Hall and Doherty Hall. A “green” roof protects the buidling from UV rays, reduces cooling and heating energy consumption, and decreases stormwater waste streams. With the help of green practices and the campus community, the future holds much promise for the implementation of more innovative ways to save the environment.