University gets grant to increase recycling on campus

Recyclable items wait to be processed at the Florence Recycling Center. UNA and the recycling center have partnered together through a grant to increase recycling and recycling education.

In October 2011, UNA and the City of Florence Recycling Center received a grant from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to improve and increase the recycling program on campus. The funds have been used to purchase recycling containers for placement across campus.

In 2009, ADEM started the recycling grant, which is funded by $1 being given to the program for every ton of garbage that is put in a landfill. This money is put into the grant which is then awarded to help with cleanup from illegal dumping and to promote recycling efforts.

“This is a competitive grant statewide and is awarded to several cities and counties each year,” said Rachel Mansell, coordinator for education and outreach for the solid waste department of Florence.

The ADEM grant was not enough to provide all of the funding that was originally requested but will help the university implement more recycling containers and education on campus. Michael Gautney, director of facilities at UNA, said officials have submitted a grant proposal for next year to purchase the items not funded this year to assist the university with its recycling initiatives.

UNA will also use part of the grant to implement more advertisements and promotions of the campus recycling program. The Student Government Association will be responsible for providing students with the materials to educate themselves on the program and the importance of recycling.

Gautney said a portion of the grant was used to help promote the program through billboards downtown as well as an ad in the Courier Journal. He said April 4 is the university’s target date to have all the new containers in place across campus. There will be smaller containers in classrooms, offices, and 96-gallon containers in several buildings on campus.

“In addition to these activities, focused organizational projects are being planned for the near future to increase awareness of recycling,” Gautney said.

Mansell said everyone should get involved with the project.

“My involvement has been the application part of the grant, and now the rest of it belongs to the students and staff of UNA,” Mansell said. “In order for it to work, it has to be a campus-wide effort by students, staff and administration.

In order for offices on campus to have their own recycling tote, an application was required.

“A request for the office tote comes with an agreement to empty the tote into larger containers,” Gautney said. “This way everyone is sharing and doing their part.

“We’ve had a long standing recycling program; it’s measured in tons for the amount of recycling we do each year. Our goal is to increase our outtake by 25 percent from last year, since last year we increased by 25 percent from previous year, so we’ve already met that goal last year, and we have the same goal again for this year.”