Stony Brook University recycled the most e-waste out of all the U.S. colleges and universities in RecycleMania and for a fourth consecutive year earned a spot in the Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges.
This year, Stony Brook’s focus during RecycleMania was e-waste, or discarded electronics/ electrical parts like computers, printers, toner/ink cartridges, cell phones, CDs and more.
Over the eight-week period, through pickup services and increased awareness, the university recycled 120,302 pounds of e-waste. This tripled last year’s amount and was enough to beat second place winner, Purdue University, by more than 5,000 pounds.
When it came to the “Gorilla” category, which ranks colleges and universities based on the amount of recycled bottles, cans, cardboard and paper, Stony Brook beat all of the other SUNY schools for the second consecutive year. The university also placed 22nd out of 365 in this category by recycling 526,733 pounds of material.
“We are very proud of our University community, including our Department of Recycling and Resource Management and Division of Information Technology staff, who came together and highlighted our commitment to ‘live’ sustainably,” said James O’Connor, director of Sustainability and Transportation Operations. “Through help from students, faculty and staff, we were able to continue our recycling success and minimize our environmental impact.”
An impact that through this year’s RecycleMania alone was able to reduce greenhouse gases by the C02 equivalent of 982 metrics tons, which is the same as removing 192 cars from the road or the amount of energy consumed by 85 households.
“I think that’s pretty cool,” said Claire Morrison, a senior psychology major. “Stony Brook is a pretty green school compared to others. They definitely have minimized waste this semester. I could see that with how they just switched from cardboard boxes to plates in the dining halls.”
These results from RecycleMania and what the university does regularly are what make it a “green college.” According to Princeton Review, they look for colleges that “demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation.”
At Stony Brook, green is in mind when the university constructs new buildings. Now, all new buildings are designed with new green attributes like the Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center, which is located on the Stony Brook Research Park. This infrastructure has helped recognize the university as a green school due to it being the first building in New York State to have a leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED) platinum rating.
Coupled with this, Stony Brook is part of a program called the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), which implements energy conservation projects and funds projects through the money saved on the utility bill. NYSERDA saves the university approximately $300,000 per month.
And while most people do not know about all the technical green attributes and money saving programs, most are aware of the compact garbage cans, made by BigBelly Solar, throughout campus.
These cans compact approximately four to five garbage cans worth of waste into one and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80 percent, according to the BigBelly Solar website.
“I think it is a good thing that the university is going green,” said Ian Donnelly, sophomore biology major. “One of the environmental friendly things that I have seen on campus was the trash compactors. I think they are great.”
Besides how environmentally friendly the campus is, students have the option to go green with their careers.
In 1967 the university signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and created an Environmental Stewardship department, which helped to develop the environmental career choices offered today.
This is also why “The Princeton Review” says “Stony Brook University has a long history of green awareness.”
Now, Stony Brook offers bachelor’s degrees in everything from marine science to environmental humanities. These degrees, according to the public relations office, are “instrumental in equipping and training the next generation of green leaders.”
So while RecycleMania may be over until Feb. 2 of next year, Stony Brook will continue with its environmentally friendly initiatives as a green college and hope to continue its success next year in the competition.
“This year was an exciting time to compete in RecycleMania, thanks in large part to the friendly, competitive nature of many members of our University community, who not only wanted to see our great University place well in national standings, but also to make a difference for the environment,” said Michael Youdelman, Manager of Recycling and Resource Management at Stony Brook. “We truly knocked it out of the park with this year’s recycling initiatives.”