NIU in top third of RecycleMania competition

By Hailey Kurth

Today is the 46th day NIU has been competing in RecycleMania, and the school is currently ranked in the top third of the competition.

RecycleMania is a competition between 605 colleges and universities from the U.S. and Canada. It started on Feb. 5 and will end Mar. 31. This is NIU’s first time in the competition.

NIU recently started to offer recycling for batteries, electrical waste (e-waste) and light bulbs, said Ryan Read, the recycling coordinator for Building Services West. Read said NIU also started to switch the four-bin recycle and waste system to a commingle system, which allows any type of recyclable item. A list of recyclable items can be found on flyers around campus or on NIU’s recycling website.

“Even if it has staples, even if it has the plastic windows, you can recycle your entire notebook with the metal spiral and all,” said Sarah Wawerski, senior environmental studies major and undergraduate recycling coordinator for the NIU 3R program.

Wawerski said according to law, e-waste cannot be disposed of in landfills. A list of e-waste items can be found on NIU’s recycling web page. Wawerski said there are different ways for students to recycle a e-waste item.

Mary Alice Drain, energy specialist at NIU physical plant, said people often question if the recycling bins are actually recycled or if they are combined with waste.

“It’s because people see the Building Services folks put both kinds of bags in their rolling bins and take them out to the dumpsters,” Drain said. “The key here is that there are both waste and recycling dumpsters back there. It makes more sense, to me, to make one trip instead of two.”

To ensure there is no confusion, NIU started to use clear bags for recycling and black bags for trash, Wawerski said. For the buildings that have not switched to this method, Wawerski said the janitors tie the trash bags and leave the recycling bags untied when collecting them.

The waste management recycling budget for NIU is about $100,000 annually, Drain said. A recycling cost is included in student fees, Wawerski said.