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Berea Reaches Recycling Record in 2006

Berea College's recycling program hit a record last year when it recycled more than 318,000 pounds of paper, plastic, glass, aluminum, batteries and other recyclable waste materials produced by the campus community. The recycled materials accounted for a full 25% of the total waste produced by the college.

"[The] total amount of recycled materials fluctuates each year based on use of materials and the marketability of recycling particular materials," explained Tammy Clemons, the Sustainability Coordinator for Berea College. The last time the College reached a record total of recycled materials was in 2003, when a total of 148 tons was recycled.

In addition to this ordinary fluctuation, recycling on campus has grown more popular and widespread over the years. Clemons cited the campus community's initiative for the effectiveness of the recycling program.

"Recycling has become more visible, accessible and culturally normative among not only students but faculty and staff as well," said Clemons. "Many offices and programs have also changed practices to reuse materials instead of purchasing new materials."

Berea College's recycling program was originally conceived and initiated by students in late 1989 without any funding from the college itself. The program eventually became an official part of the facilities management department where it is run by Recycling Coordinator Kevin Long and a team of twelve student workers.

"I think it is important for students to know that sustainability in general and recycling in particular at Berea College really developed out of student interest, initiative and determination," said Clemons. "Students expressed and acted on their concern for the environment and actually served as leadership for the institution as a whole to become more intentionally sustainable in its operations."

Long and the recycling program's student workers pick up recycled material from the buildings on campus and bring it back to their facility to be sorted and weighed for shipment.

"Recycling is easy to do and helps the environment by reducing our dependency on our natural resources," said Long, who has worked as recycling coordinator since 1999. "The recycling program hopefully has increased awareness on campus [of] the importance of reusing and recycling material."

"We are always looking for ways to improve awareness and increase recycling efforts across campus," added Long.

Some of the program's current attempts to increase student awareness include working with the Residence Life Green Team to coordinate the college's first-time participation in the national RecycleMania competition. Another recycling competition on campus is the Eco-Olympics, introduced last year, that offers rewards to the residence hall that recycles the most.

If you'd like to begin (or increase your) recycling, take a closer look at the trash you throw away. Materials that can be recycled at Berea College include most paper products (white paper, mixed/color paper, newspaper, magazines, shredded paper, books and cardboard), aluminum/steel, glass and plastics. Recycling containers are located in numerous locations around campus and in each residence hall.

After a recent initiative by the Recycling Program, used batteries can be dropped off in the CPO for recycling as well. Postage-paid envelopes for recycling inkjet cartridges and old cell phones are offered in the CPO and Hutchins Library.

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