The fall semester is fast approaching, and over the summer Allen College has been working to expand its Pass on Plastic: Recycling & Reduction initiative. Pass on Plastics aims to reduce the amount of annual landfilled plastic waste that Allen College produces by half, which equates to about 16,000 pounds or enough to fill 165 dumpsters.*
Thanks to a grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Solid Waste Alternatives Program awarded in spring 2019, Allen has been able to add 16 recycling bins, distribute reusable tumblers and cutlery sets to all students, faculty, and staff, and install 3 new water bottle filling stations on campus.
The College has also begun the important process of phasing out plastic dishware at coffee stations and in breakrooms. Additional initiatives include offering education to increase recycling rates and contributing 100+ service hours to local recycling events, such as Waste Trac’s annual Spring and Fall Drop-Off.
Allen has made previous efforts to foster environmental sustainability over the past few years. These include installing two water filling stations, changing the default setting on all printers to double-sided, replacing lights with energy efficient LED bulbs, and installing sensors that turn lights off after a period of inactivity. However, Pass on Plastics is the first time there has been a concerted green effort across the College and it shows.
“Since spring there has definitely been a shift towards a more sustainable campus. You can see it in the individual choices people make and also when we look at the amount of overall plastic waste we’re producing and recycling. It’s really making a difference, and it’s all because students faculty, and staff have been so willing to do their part,” said Dr. Jared Seliger, Allen College President.
Pass on Plastics is helping establish a campus-wide culture of waste reduction and recycling. Moreover, the College hopes to build on this endeavor in the years to come. “This is just the start,” said Dr. Seliger, “Allen is committed to environmental sustainability more than ever.”
*Estimates based on Allen’s current recycling dumpster, which accommodates 3 cubic yards of waste and average weight per cubic yard of loose mixed plastics (PET and HDPE) via epa.gov.