UNL recycling program makes steady progress

Mar 31st, 2011 | By | Category: Campus News, Jan. 27

The UNL recycling program continues to gain steam.

Between 2005 and 2009, the university doubled annual totals for both tons recycled and percent of total waste recycled. While 2010 totals are pending, initial estimates put the year on par or slightly better than 2009, which ended with 44.3 percent of total waste recycled.

“That’s above the national average, which is around 33 percent,” said Prabhakar “Prabs” Shrestha, a graduate student and UNL’s recycling coordinator. “The total is good, but we can always do more.”

Faculty, staff and students drive the success of the campus-recycling program — hauling recyclables to bins located across campus. The recycling coordinator is a 20-hour per week position. The only full-time recycling employee is recycling handler Troy Davis. Two other employees — Rick Hennecke and Ed Holloway — assist Davis with campus pickup and delivering recyclables to vendors.

The recycling coordinator is responsible for spreading word about the program.

Now in his second year, Shrestha has directed most of his efforts at students, an audience he thought could make a positive impact on UNL’s recycling efforts.

“When I first started out, there wasn’t much student involvement with recycling,” said Shrestha. “I didn’t even know there was a recycling program when I first started studying at UNL.”

He has been actively meeting with students, creating relationships with student organizations (including the Environmental Resources Club) and working on programming that inspires students to think green.

During the 2010 Husker football season, Shrestha organized more than 40 student volunteers in a one-game recycling sweep through Memorial Stadium. The group collected nearly four tons of plastic.

Volunteers also joined the Big Red Green Team, walking around campus parking lots on Husker game days, handing out green trash bags and asking tailgaters to recycle.

And, now for the second year, Shrestha has entered UNL into Recyclemania, a 10-week friendly recycling competition between universities in the United States and Canada. The contest, which ranks weekly university recycling totals against one another, officially begins Feb. 6, finishing April 2. Shrestha said UNL began reporting recycling figures Jan. 23 for the Recyclemania pre-season “trials.”

Last year, UNL finished around 150th out of the 230 universities enrolled in the overall percentage-recycled category.

“We take part in Recyclemania to help increase recycling awareness among faculty, staff and students,” said Shrestha. “Last year we set a benchmark. Now, we need to improve upon that figure.”

He encouraged the entire campus community to get involved in the recycling push.

Shrestha said he is available to give presentations on the UNL recycling program to any campus unit. He also welcomes any questions or requests from faculty, staff and students.

“We have lots of recycle bins of many different sizes available,” said Shrestha. “If you need one, please give us a call. If you have a large amount of material that needs to be picked up, we can do that too.”

He said just being aware of recycling options is key to improving UNL’s recycling figures — which is important as the university prepares to join the Big Ten Conference.

“Everyone of those universities in the Big Ten are big time recyclers,” said Shrestha. “Penn State and Michigan do an amazing job. Based on recent recycling figures, UNL can expect to be in the middle to bottom when it comes to recycling in the Big Ten.”

For more information on the UNL recycling program go to http://recycling.unl.edu or contact Shrestha at recycling@unl.edu or 472-9139.

– Troy Fedderson, University Communications

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave Comment