Ohio University was recently awarded an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Recycling Grant of nearly $130,000 which, combined with internal matching funds, will allocate more than $160,000 toward a 12-month project to improve the collection and processing of organic waste on campus. The Ohio EPA grant application was collaboratively created through the partnership of multiple entities including Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, Facilities Management, Campus Recycling, the Office of Sustainability, and the Athletics Department.
“Raising the awareness about recycling, composting, and the power of sustainable choices has led to a host of really interesting and successful partnerships and projects on campus. We have a lot of great student leaders who want to make a difference,” Elissa Welch, project manager for the Voinovich School, said. The Voinovich School also partners with Rural Action, a local nonprofit organization, to catalyze change across the region through the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative, a 10-year project funded by the Sugar Bush Foundation.
The grant money will be used for three main improvements including installing stationary co-located waste bins in the Convocation Center, which explain where to put different types of waste. “Putting a focus on the Convocation Center not only presents an opportunity to notably contribute to the University’s diversion program, but it also provides a platform to educate and market those efforts to the community at large,” Associate Athletics Director Jason Farmer said.
The grant will also be used to create a new model for on-campus sustainable events, including utilization of a new portable conveyor to assist with sorting. “Waste streams can often be contaminated preventing their proper processing. For example, if a chip bag or a tennis shoe ends up in the recyclables, not ideal. The grant will support a portable, small-scale waste sorting conveyor to assist Campus Recycling in pre-sorting waste streams from special events before the materials go to the recycling center, the compost facility, or the landfill,” Welch said. “The conveyor can be used across campus to show Bobcats that everyone’s waste choices can make a difference, that it really does matter,” she added.
Finally, a new box truck, carts, and conveyor at the OHIO Compost Facility will be utilized to improve the reliability of transport and reduce product handling time. “The infrastructure improvements will increase our efficiency and increase opportunities for recycling efforts at athletic and outdoor venues,” Steve Mack, interim executive director of facilities management and safety, said.
Welch is excited about the opportunity presented by the additional funding, which can enhance the significance of both internal and external partnerships and public education and awareness. “Ohio University is fortunate to be part of a larger community that sees the importance and potential of waste,” Welch said.