Officials from the Mississippi Recycling Coalition were at Mississippi State Tuesday [Jan. 14] to present the university with the "Educational Institution Recycler of the Year" award.
The organization recently named its 2013 Environmental Award winners, honoring cities, institutions and organizations statewide for outstanding recycling projects.
Jeremiah Dumas, MSU associate director of the Office of Sustainability, said recycling and sustainability efforts on campus are the product of extensive research and trials over the past three years. Upon discovering that more than 90 percent of waste in offices on campus was comprised of recyclable materials, initiatives were set in motion to establish the campus-wide program.
Led by the Office of Sustainability and the Campus Sustainability Committee, the program collects paper, cardboard, plastics, metals and aluminum in buildings throughout campus. Drives to recycle toner cartridges, used oil, batteries and electronics also are in place.
Dumas said offices produce the biggest bulk of recycling materials, so trash cans in offices throughout campus were converted to single-stream recycling receptacles.
Mark Williams, who works with solid waste policy planning and grants with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and also serves as an advisor to the board of directors for the Mississippi Recycling Coalition, said that every community throughout the state must have a waste reduction strategy, and every state agency and college campus is required to have a recycling program.
"Mississippi State's program is the kind of model we want to replicate throughout the state," Williams said, adding that not only does the recycling program divert reusable materials from landfills, but also creates jobs.
Sarah Kountouris, executive director for Keep Mississippi Beautiful and president of the board of directors for the Mississippi Recycling Coalition, said MSU has set a standard for other universities and community colleges to follow. She thanked custodial and landscape staff on hand for their work in bringing the program to life.
"They're the ones who make this program work," Kountouris said.
The university collected 306,628 pounds of recyclables over a nine-month period in the 2011 fiscal year. In the following fiscal year, the collection grew to 613,672 pounds, nearly 51,139 pounds per month. Additionally, Dumas said researchers are continually evaluating the effectiveness of the programs and waste reduction practices on campus.
For more information on sustainability efforts at MSU, visit http://www.sustainability.msstate.edu/.