Baylor Starts Major Recycling Project; Joins More Than 1,000 Other Campuses to Help Focus Nation on Solutions to Global Warming

Jan. 25, 2008
News Photo 4375

by Frank Raczkiewicz

Baylor University will join more than 1,000 other universities across the country in participating in Focus the Nation, the largest "teach-in" in U.S. history that hopes to prepare students to become leaders in one of the largest environmental challenges any generation has faced - global warming.

"This event is an opportunity to put theory into practice," said Whitney Petty, a senior environmental studies major from Dripping Springs and president of the Baylor student club Environmental Concern Organization. "It's an opportunity to learn what solutions each individual person can be a part of."

The teach-in will be held at 4 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 31, in room B110 of the Baylor Sciences Building on the Baylor campus. The event will focus on global warming solutions and will feature panel presentations from three Baylor professors on different topics relating to the subject. Following the presentations, different vendor booths will be set up to educate participants about sustainability opportunities at Baylor.

Presenters include:

• Dr. Larry Lehr, senior lecturer of environmental studies at Baylor, who will give an overview of global warming and pollution.

• Dr. Ian Gravagne, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Baylor, who will speak about alternative approaches to generating energy.

• Robert Darden, associate professor of journalism at Baylor, who will speak about the media's past, present and future role in the issue.

Baylor also is starting a major new recycling initiative. Beginning Feb. 1, the initial phase will place 145 blue recycling containers in every campus residence hall that will take nearly every recyclable item, such as paper, colored paper, plastics, aluminum and tin. The containers are "single stream," meaning students will not have to sort the different items. The sorting will be completed at Sunbright Disposal Services, a local processing plant.

"We've wanted to do this for a while, but the problem was just getting an organized effort started," said Toby Tull, coordinator for housing information systems and chair of the sustainability projects subcommittee at Baylor. "The key is to get residents to realize that the majority of the waste in residence halls can be recycled and not thrown away."

Over the next few months, Baylor will expand its recycling initiative. Recycle bins will be placed in Baylor offices and public places around campus like the libraries, the Bill Daniel Student Center and the McLane Student Life Center. Tull said estimates show that Baylor could triple the amount it currently recycles, from 160 tons per year to more than 500 tons, once all the recycle bins are in place.

The new recycling initiative also will impact Baylor's bottom line. If the projected recycling numbers are met after all the bins have been placed, Baylor will save approximately $1,200 per month on landfill fees. In addition, Sunbright will pay Baylor about $1,100 per month for its recycled goods, meaning total savings could be nearly $2,500 per month, or more than $27,000 per year.

"The cost savings are nice, but above that, it is also the need to be good stewards of the resources we have been given," said Pattie Orr, vice president for information technology and dean of university libraries at Baylor, who spearheaded the sustainability initiative. "It makes no sense to put material in a landfill that costs us when we can get money by sending the same material to the recycling facility."

Members of the University's Sustainable Committee will have a booth set up at Focus the Nation to educate the community about the upcoming initiatives.

For more information, contact Pattie Orr at (254) 710-3200.

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