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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

April 17, 2009

Recycling pilot prject

Casey Fangmann (left) and Meredith Young are members of a student task force coordinating a recycling pilot project in the residence halls. The department's investment in the program includes 12 sets of four bins (two 35-gallon and two 50-gallon) with lids, at about $485 per set. Photo by Bob Elbert.

Live Green!

Residence hall team launches house recycling effort

by Anne Krapfl

A dozen of the residence halls' 126 houses are piloting a recycling program this month that, if successful, will expand to all 126 floors when fall classes begin in August.

During the last week of March, sets of four Rubbermaid containers were delivered to the dens of the 12 pilot sites. There also are recycling containers for the Frederiksen Court apartments at the community center and, through a separate student Honors project, at the Schilletter-University Village laundromat. Through finals week, students will recycle:

  • Wetboard (noncorrugated cardboard, such as tissue or cereal boxes)
  • White and colored paper
  • Redeemable beverage containers
  • Nonredeemable plastic containers (such as water bottles, yogurt cups, milk jugs)

Houses retain the option of redeeming the nickel containers themselves and using the funds for floor activities, as they have done for years. If they release those containers with their recyclables this month, the redemption earnings are folded back into the recycling program.

Mary Beth Golemo, the residence staff member working with a volunteer student team to launch the project, said the department provides a truck and driver once a week to transport all the recyclables to the Ames Area Redemption Center on East Lincoln Way. A student volunteer from each house weighs the materials and helps load the truck.

"We're not sure how much material we'll collect," Golemo said, "but if it goes well, we're prepared to buy a set of containers for the rest of the 114 houses."

She said the post-pilot evaluation will consider things like the volume of materials recycled, logistical kinks in the plan, and facts or trends they weren't aware of before they started.

What, no recycling?

Like many on the planning task force, freshman Casey Fangmann practiced curbside recycling in his hometown of Marion. He was surprised to arrive at Iowa State last August and discover meager recycling options (newsprint, bottles and cans).

"Especially during fall move-in, I couldn't believe the amount of corrugated cardboard going into the dumpster. It was a shock to me," he said.

By mid-November, he had orchestrated a recycling plan for his floor. He used his own money to purchase a half dozen collection bins and his own car to haul their contents to East Lincoln Way. He also set up a spreadsheet to track how much stuff he was recycling from Martin Hall: about 500 pounds in four months.

In January, Fangmann joined the student task force that was developing the recycling proposal. That group grew out of a September leadership conference in the residence department and subsequent meetings of student recycling advocates.

Their planning included a conversation with Lorrie Hanson of the city's resource recovery plant, where garbage is sorted for conversion to electricity in the power plant.

"We know less goes into the landfill in Ames, but I still think recycling is better than burning," said task force member and junior Meredith Young, who lives in Friley Hall this year and grew up recycling in Des Moines.

Golemo also noted that a goal of the residence program is to train students in recycling for when they leave Ames.

Fangmann intends to continue recording how much material residence students are recycling. Ideally, he said, they consistently would achieve the volume that entices a vendor to bid to pick up the recyclables from a few secondary, outdoor collection spots.

Live Green!

More information on Iowa State's "Live Green!" initiative is online.


"Especially during fall move-in, I couldn't believe the amount of corrugated cardboard going into the dumpster."

Freshman Casey Fangmann