A Stony Brook University student recycles a plastic bottle on campus. FRANCIS YU/STATESMAN FILE
A Stony Brook University student recycles a plastic bottle on campus. Stony Brook is entering the final week of RecycleMania, an annual recycling competition. FRANCIS YU/STATESMAN FILE

Currently in its final week of the RecycleMania competition, Stony Brook is looking to finish as the top campus recycler of e-waste, or electronic waste, among colleges and universities across the country.

In 2016, Stony Brook ranked fifth out of 50 for the e-cyclemania competition, which is a special category that tracks the amount of electronics recycled.

“Our primary goal is to recycle as much as possible with a concentration on e-waste,” Connell Friel, director of custodial and recycling operations, said. “This reduces their clutter, frees up valuable university space, and ensures all the hazardous material associated with e-waste does not end up in the regular waste stream, which, of course, results in a cleaner and greener environment.”

As of week 6, the university was ranked 160th out of the 177 entries with a weekly recycling rate of 15.82 percent of cumulative recycling, including food and trash. The goal of the competition, which ends on April 1, is to promote waste reduction at college and university campuses, according to the RecycleMania website.

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On campus, there are e-waste and recycling bins accessible inside lobby spaces in residential buildings and around the academic mall.

Some students believe that the university’s efforts have made an impact on their willingness and motivation to recycle.

“The impact of recycling is definitely a big one, as it’s something I see every day whether or not I actively think about it,” Daniel Delgado, a junior computer science major, said. “All of the plastic bags, bottles and cans being made from recycled materials must amount to a large reduction in waste produced.”

The Princeton Review currently ranks Stony Brook 16th of its Top 50 Green Colleges  in the United States. The university also offers majors such as environmental studies, sustainability studies and coastal environmental studies that engage students in studying the material that interests them and helps the environment.

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“Recycling on college campuses, and having good facilities that make it easy and accessible to do so, is extremely important,” Emma McCauley, a senior marine vertebrate biology major, said. “The most important thing you can do to be a responsible steward is to focus on reducing your use of single-use plastics and other containers, and finding ways to reuse stuff you would normally recycle immediately.”

In response to the past results of the competition, the university has been working with the New York Power Authority on conservation projects to expand recycling. They have installed 52,000 light fixtures, 4,800 lighting sensors, and improved air-handling systems and management upgrades across campus.

“I think if we did as well in this year’s contest, it would be a remarkable achievement and a tremendous reflection on our university,” Friel said.

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