Hastings College began the Broncos Recycle! program after chemistry professor Dr. Neil Heckman received a $7,457 grant from PepsiCo. With the grant, bins will be placed in every building on campus, and every dorm and apartment received a trash can and recycling bin. With the program, Heckman hopes to educate the campus on recycling. He heard about the grant when he was visiting with HC’s vending machines vendor, who happened to work for PepsiCo.
“I thought it was a real long shot to get it,” said Heckman. “(In) my environmental science class, we noticed that there was a need to improve the recycling on campus, so I thought, well, why not give it a shot.”
Three months after he sent in the application, HC was awarded the grant. While it was mostly for infrastructure, it also allowed for more recycling bins to be available around campus. The grant was utilized for a small trash can and recycle bin to be given to every dorm and every apartment.
“One of the pitfalls in the previous efforts for recycling is that each dorm is not supplied a trash can,” said Heckman. “When you give certain people a recycle bin and no trash can, it just turns into a convenient trash can.”
Prior to the grant, the majority of buildings on campus had recycling bins and some had internal recycling programs. Now, all buildings have their own recycling receptacle, including large recycling receptacles for the sports arenas and common areas on campus. Many of the bins for the sports centers were back-ordered, but some have already been placed in the sports facilities.
By placing the recycling receptacles in the sports arena, the recycling program hopes to educate the public and make recycling more accessible at sporting events. Plastic bottles can be easily recycled and are a popular concession — more bins will increase the amount of plastic recycled. Another aspect would be educating and helping spectators understand what can be recycled. At the sports complexes, recycling bins have holes in the top to make it clear where plastic bottles should be placed.
“The philosophy used to be, if in doubt we would try to recycle it and really it should be if in doubt we need to recycle it,” said Heckman.
“If we collect it with the goal of recycling, at least there is a hope that some of it gets recycled, where if we throw it in the trash I know it’s not going to be recycled and it’s going to be buried in our backyard,” Heckman said.
The recycling program is not working with the dining hall to limit the use of non-reusable materials, but Heckman says that if the program is expanded further, it would be a great opportunity.
“At this point, it’s just getting everyone that more convenient opportunity to recycle items individually,” said Heckman. Students can purchase a reusable meal container from the dining hall with Bronco Bucks.
In the past, the recycling program was run entirely by students with varying success rates. This year, however, the program will be supervised by Heckman and Beth Simoens with student workers checking and taking out the recycling.
Heckman wants students to know that there is a program on campus and wants them to be involved, but it’s okay to not participate as long as they’re respectful of those who do recycle.