Coca-Cola grant to make recycling easier for university

Image from pixabay.
Image from pixabay.

In an effort to make recycling easier, 20 new bins – out of 3,250 nationwide – have been distributed within the UM community as part of the 2017 Coca-Cola/Keep America Beautiful Public Space Recycling Bin Grant.

Keep America Beautiful is a nonprofit that receives funds from the Coca-Cola Company to increase recycling awareness in the U.S. The grant program started with the goal to help different communities with additional containers to increase the rate of recycling.

“For us, one of the issues that we had was that we had opened bins for recycling for outdoor events,” said Teddy Lhoutellier, the university’s sustainability manager.

Lhoutellier explained that when there’s a big outdoor event, such as the weekly farmer’s market, UM puts out additional blue bins to make the recycling process easier and more efficient. However, original bins didn’t have a restrictive opening for cans and bottles – this issue has now been resolved through the Keep America Beautiful Grant.

“Most of the time, what we need for events when you have a lot of food going on is a bin with cans and bottles only,” Lhoutellier said. “If you have an open bin, you have a lot of contamination going on. Restrictive opening is the only way to control a little bit more this issue.”

Students try out a new restrictive-opening recycling bin. Photo courtesy Office of Sustainability

These new bins will be used only for outdoor special events. The UM community and its visitors can expect to see new blue recycling bins with restrictive openings on the Whitten University Center patio and Rock Plaza when additional recycling containers are needed.

“Any grant or opportunity to promote the act of recycling and/or education about recycling is extremely valuable to the UM community,” said Stefanie Getz, vice chair of ECO Agency. “Recycling education is one of the major initiatives that various environmental organizations on campus, including ECO Agency, strive to enhance.”

The Coca-Cola Foundation and Keep America Beautiful have offered the recycling bin grant program to 1,000 communities across the U.S. to address two of the primary barriers to recycling in public spaces — access and convenience.

“Coca-Cola has a long history of supporting community recycling programs in an effort to ensure that our packaging is recycled and reused,” said Bruce Karas, vice president of sustainability for Coca-Cola North America, in a press release sent by the office of sustainability.

According to Lhoutellier, UM has been partnering with Keep America Beautiful for more than five years, with the common goal of encouraging people to recycle more often and making it easier to do so.

“Partnerships like these are so important because companies with big names have far-reaching power,” said Getz, a senior environmental engineering major. “I love to see that corporations like Coca-Cola are making an effort to increase sustainability and awareness on the topic.”

She said she hopes that other UM students are excited and inspired by this recycling opportunity to make a positive change. She also encourages anyone with questions, ideas or other comments about recycling to reach out to the ECO Agency.

“I hope that we’ll have a better way of recycling for outdoor events with those bins,” Lhoutellier said.