The National Recycling Coalition (NRC) presented Penn State with its 2014 Outstanding Higher Education Award as one of the “Best of the Best.” The University was specifically recognized for its “exceptional program in recycling” and for “connecting higher education and industry.”
The NRC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and enhancing recycling in the U.S. By partnering with its more than 6,000 member organizations, which includes other nonprofits, businesses, trade associations, individuals and government, it strives to ensure a recycling system committed to the conservation of natural resources.
Penn State was selected above more than 70 other universities under consideration — fitting recognition for more than a quarter century of progress. Twenty-five years ago, the University recycled less than a ton of its waste. Today, students, faculty, staff and visitors divert more than 100 types and almost 10,000 tons of waste from landfill at the University Park campus. The success is driven by a University-wide commitment that includes partnerships with departments such as Housing and Food Services, the College of Agricultural Sciences, Hospitality Services and Intercollegiate Athletics.
“I think it’s the scope of University Park’s new möbius program (both the addition and scale of composting) that pushed our application over the top,” said Al Matyasovsky, supervisor of Central Support Services and program manager for möbius.
Named for the infamous (and infinite) Möbius loop, the program is expanding campus composting to all offices and residence halls in an effort to “close the loop on waste.” This summer, Old Main became the 50th building at University Park to begin office composting, but all buildings at University Park will be part of the program in the coming months. A full rollout schedule of upcoming buildings is available, along with access to the möbius Yammer group where users with a Penn State ID can post specific recycling questions.
“I know when I visited our composting facility last year that I was truly blown away by the magnitude of that effort,” said David Gray, senior vice president for finance and business. “Since then, our overall recycling initiative has only continued to expand and permeate all corners of the University.”
In addition to composting, which is expected to increase the amount of waste diverted from the landfill to 75 percent, recycling for miscellaneous plastics (e.g., yogurt cups and other wide-mouth containers) is also now part of the möbius stations across campus. This added recycling could bring Penn State’s diversion to 85 percent.
The award was presented at NRC’s annual Resource Recycling Conference in New Orleans.