The Tennessee Recycling Coalition honored Tennessee Tech with the 2019 Higher Education Recycler of the Year award during the 30th annual conference held recently in Gatlinburg.
This is the first time Tech has been honored by the TRC. Previous higher education awardees include the University of Tennessee Knoxville and Tennessee State University Nursery.
“Our students have been working hard over the past several years to build Tennessee Tech’s recycling program,” said DeLayne Miller, sustainability manager. “It is good to be recognized for their work and it encourages us to continue our efforts.”
Tech’s Office of Sustainability was established in the fall of 2015 to promote and document sustainable initiatives on campus. Even though the office was established in 2015, the University has been formally engaged in the sustainability process since 10 years prior when former President Bob Bell approved the Green Fee Program, which establishes a certain amount of funds from the student activity fee go toward sustainable campus initiatives.
There are a number of sustainable projects on campus, relating to energy, green space, recycling, research, water, and transportation.
Students are involved in the decision-making process of where the Green Fee goes by participating in the Sustainable Campus Committee.
The campus recycling program is completely run by student workers and the office hosts and sponsors events with student and community group representation throughout the year.
“Last year, we partnered with Keep Putnam County Beautiful Clean Commission in its Putnam Proud Clean-Up (2018) and supported 10 student groups who picked up trash in areas across Putnam County,” Miller said. “We hope to have an even larger turn-out at the same event this fall.”
Last year, recycling 22.2 percent of the campus waste saved approximately $11,214 in landfill costs. The University pays $45 a ton for landfill waste.
In FY19, the total campus waste sent to the landfill was 873.17 tons, while recycled amounts came to 249.21 tons.
The TRC presents the Higher Education Recycler of the Year Award to a school that has established a comprehensive system of waste prevention, recycling and other environmental programs.
For more information about Tech’s recycling program, visitwww.tntech.edu/sustainability/untitledrecycling-projects.php.