UH ranks high in competition
UH holds second place in the state in RecycleMania’s Grand Champion category, as today marks the end of the 10-week competition.
ìWe are very excited about the efforts and progress UH has made toward being more green overall,îù said Emily Messa, assistant vice president of University Services.
Among Texas schools, the University trails only Richland College in the recycling contest. Rice University finished in fifth.
The University and President Renu Khator will celebrate its success in RecycleMania at noon in the University Center Satellite.
ìThis is the first year that UH participated in this national recycling competition. Before entering RecycleMania, UH was recycling 24 percent of its total waste, and the competition has raised it to almost 32 percent,îù Messa said.
Miami University and Ohio University started RecycleMania in 2001 as a friendly competition. Since then, the competition has grown to 512 universities participating nationally.
UH reported recycling 31.7 percent of its total waste, which is significantly higher than the city of Houston.
Houston recycles just 2.6 percent of its total waste, according to a study this year by Waste News, a trade magazine. By comparison, San Francisco and New York recycle 69 percent and 34 percent of their waste respectively, the New York Times reported.
UH placed single stream recycling bins- one bin for all recyclable materials- next to trashcans as part of its on-going recycling efforts in the fall.
ìBeing part of RecycleMania is a great way to bring awareness and attention to recycling on campus, as well as a way for UH to start keeping record of our achievements,îù UH Environmental Club Vice President Lauren Baker said.ìIt also takes up less cost in student fees spent on shipping trash to the landfill.îù
UH is proposing that the cost of waste disposal be covered by the sales of recyclable materials.
A December 2008 carbon footprint study reported UH’s cost for shipping waste to landfill was $32,307 and its net sales of recycled materials was $23,925.
ìRight now, all the money we get from the sales of recyclable materials goes back to the Solid Waste Management Department, and our goal is to break even with the shipping cost of waste to the landfill,îù Messa said.
Recycling is just part of a larger effort in creating a more environmentally friendly campus.
ìOne of our biggest challenges we face here at UH in reducing our carbon footprint is with car commute. It accounts for 51 percent of the total carbon footprint the UH community leaves behind. We have been making various efforts to promote the use of mass transit, and ride shares,îù Messa said.
6 weeks ago, UH included a free ride share feature on the Parking Web site for students looking for ride shares to the main campus.
Messa said the University is taking an official stance in its policies to ensure an on-going effort to have a greener campus.
ìWe are in the process of drafting a Sustainability Policy, which would detail the efforts surrounding the green initiative and outline some guidelines with the responsibility of the task force,îù Messa said.ìThe idea is to make this effort transparent, as it is an evolution of the process, and continue to dialogue as way to work things through.îù
She said UH plans to build on this year’s success in next year’s competition.
ìWe plan to focus on waste minimization category, which partly focus on food waste. We want to promote the UH community to take as much food as they are going to consume,îù Messa said.ìBeing here in the U.S., it is easy to note that we have a lot more here than the rest of the world, and it is important to note the waste in this country.îù
The final results of the competition will be announced April 17.
For updates on UH’s green initiatives, visit http://greenuh.blogspot.com/.