The University of South Alabama today celebrated the upcoming national observance of Earth Day by announcing that it will strengthen its commitment to sustainability and the environment with an expansion of the University’s plastic bottle recycling program.
The expanded plastic bottle recycling program is the latest effort in the University’s Jag Smart environmental sustainability initiative, which integrates the latest green principles in recycling, energy conservation, transportation, campus construction and campus life.
“The addition of plastic to South’s end-user recycling efforts is the latest element in the University’s commitment to sustainability and the environment,” said University Sustainability Committee Chair Dr. Doug Marshall. “Look for more steps in the future.”
“The University of South Alabama has a long-standing commitment to sustainability, and this latest recycling initiative will further expand our efforts,” said USA President Gordon Moulton. “It is gratifying that this is being initiated by our students, faculty and staff, whose cooperation and commitment are the key to success in USA’s sustainability programs.”
While USA students led the charge to begin a plastic bottle recycling program several years ago through student-run recycling stations, this newly invigorated program will have an even greater positive impact with the support of the entire campus community--students, faculty, staff and administrators.
This latest plastic bottle recycling effort begins this month with the placement of small recycling bins in three buildings on campus: Humanities, the Instructional Laboratory Building, and the Administration Building.
The new “Jag Smart” plastic recycling bins have been placed on each floor of the three buildings, where the program’s success will be monitored and amended before expanding to more buildings. Expansions of the plastic recycling program are planned to include all major classroom, common-area and administrative buildings by fall 2012.
USA’s facilities department has been tapped to handle collection of the plastic and to work with a local recycler on the new program, making the endeavor revenue neutral for the University.
The plastic recycling program follows a student-led initiative started in spring 2009 by the Student Sustainability Council, which partnered with the Student Government Association and PepsiCo to buy recycling bins. It has since gained the support of the Faculty Senate Environmental Quality Committee and the University Sustainability Committee, which includes students, faculty, staff and administration.
University Sustainability Committee member Jeff Gill has been instrumental in spearheading the student effort to get the program up to speed, working collaboratively with both faculty and administrators. He said that prior to now, the plastic bottle recycling effort consisted of student-run bins maintained by volunteers, a system that was difficult to sustain.
“Now that the University is taking the reins, I feel the recycling program will be much more sustainable in the long-run,” Gill said.
Marshall, who is also an associate professor of sociology and chair of the Faculty Senate Environmental Quality Committee, said that until now, much of the University’s plastic recycling has happened “behind the scenes.”
He said that the new thrust to place small bins in campus buildings for the convenient disposal of plastic bottles not only contributes to the recycling program’s success, it also serves as an everyday reminder of USA’s commitment to sustainability.
Recycling is not new on USA’s campus. In fact, it is only one aspect of USA’s Jag Smart sustainability program. There are considerable efforts in other areas of sustainability, including:
- paper and cardboard
- cardboard and frying oil in all food services
- plastic bottles
- using green practices in use of inks and papers for publications
Energy Conservation –
- minimizing use of central heating and cooling plants
- replacing incandescent lighting with LED and fluorescent lights
- replacing a number of gasoline-powered University vehicles for Campus Police and the Safety Department with electric golf carts
- implementing an awareness campaign to encourage energy conservation, such as turning off lights and reducing heating and cooling usage
Green Building Practices –
- construction of LEED-certified buildings
(including the new campus dining facility and Shelby Hall, which will soon house the College of Engineering and School of Computing)
- green parking lots
(including ones at the Mitchell Center and Mitchell Cancer Institute)
- reduction in hard surface parking to minimize storm water runoff and vehicular traffic
Sustainable Transportation –
- WAVE Transit stops on or near campus
- expanded and improved pedestrian paths
- significant planting and landscaping to encourage pedestrian traffic
- JagTran – free, environmentally-friendly transportation
- Jag Bikes program – clean alternative to cars on campus
(will be reintroduced in the fall with a new check-out system)
For more information on USA’s sustainability initiative, Jag Smart, visit www.southalabama.edu/jagsmart.