WKU introduces single-stream recycling

Students walk past a solar compactor in the snow between classes outside of Downing University Center and Minton Hall on Monday afternoon. WKU is continuing a “go green” initiative this semester.

Katherine Wade

It’s not easy being green, but WKU is making an effort to encourage recycling on campus.

WKU Sustainability Coordinator Christian Ryan-Downing said many projects across campus are pushing sustainability. One of the most recent projects is the conversion to single-stream recycling.

With single-stream recycling, all materials can be deposited into a single collection bin, instead of using separate bins for items such as paper, plastic and aluminum. The materials will be separated by a recycling process facility.

Some of the bins have already been put up around campus, Ryan-Downing said. Right now, there are only single-stream bins outside of buildings, but bins will soon be placed inside buildings as well.

Ryan-Downing said she hopes that switching to single stream will increase the amount of recycling on campus dramatically.

“It’s a great opportunity because it makes it so much easier to recycle,” she said. “We currently recycle about 14 percent of our solid waste, and we could potentially be recycling 35 percent. That’s our goal, and we’re really excited.”

Ryan-Downing said that before making this change, students could only recycle Nos. 1 and 2 plastics on campus. Now they can recycle Nos. 1-7 plastics in the new bins.

Morganfield senior Charlie Harris said he was excited when he came to campus and saw the new recycling bins.

“One of the biggest barriers to students recycling is the convenience,” he said. “Sometimes you might be able to find a plastic bottle recycling bin in one place but have to go somewhere else to recycle paper. I think this will get people acting more.”

Harris, who co-founded WKU’s Americans for Informed Democracy organization, said recycling is a great way for students to get involved in helping the environment.

One way for students to get involved in that effort is RecycleMania, a competition among universities to reduce waste and increase recycling on their campuses over a 10-week period.

RecycleMania started Feb. 6 and runs until April 8. According to the RecycleMania website, there are 630 colleges across the country competing this year. The schools are ranked based upon which one “collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or have the highest recycling rate.”

Harris said he hoped RecycleMania would encourage college students to think more about recycling and its importance.

“We can all recognize that in the space we live in, the resources we use are precious and finite,” he said. “We still have quite a long time on this planet, so if we’re not careful with our resources, we could end up messing up our environment for ourselves.”