It’s no secret that recycling is good for the earth, but through Penn State’s recycling program, it’s also good for people.
Since 1995, Penn State has raised more than $800,000 for scholarships and charities through recycling.
The No. 1 fundraiser is the Trash to Treasure sale, said Al Matyasovsky , program manager of solid waste operations . Trash to Treasure has raised about $600,000 to benefit the Centre County United Way, a charitable organization, he said.
Other initiatives, like the Beaver Stadium Recycling Effort, have raised money for the United Way as well. At football games, STATERS (Students Taking Action To Encourage Recycling) provide bags to collect recyclables from tailgates, Matyasovsky said.
In addition to the sale, there are other recycling efforts that raise funds. In 1997, the Newspaper Readership Program Recycling Scholarship was established.
Newspapers are collected from bins and marketed as a commodity. Through selling the newspapers, $102,000 has been raised for the scholarship. However, since it is a trustee scholarship, they’ve matched the amount raised, making it a $204,000 scholarship fund, said Matyasovsky.
“By managing waste, we’re able to turn it into dollars,” he said.
Paul Ruskin , communications coordinator at the Office of Physical Plant, said recycling is like casting a vote. Choosing not to recycle is a voting for inefficiency and higher operating costs for the university. However, recycling is casting a vote for efficiency and raising money.
Ruskin said the recycling program continues to get better and better under the leadership of Matyasovsky.
David Manos , assistant director of housing , said Matyasovsky is a “tireless worker” and willing to do what it takes to bring things together.
But Matyasovsky puts all the credit in a different place. He said the university staff, faculty and students are the reason for the success of the program.
“They make the informed decisions to put their waste in the right place,” he said. “We manage the program, but they’re the owners.”
Last year, the university recycled 9,853 tons, which means that 64 percent — the diversion rate — of the total waste on campus was recycled. It’s the highest diversion rate in the Big Ten, Matyasovsky said.
Recycling even saves the university money, he said. To hull away a ton of trash costs $67. But a ton of bagged recyclables costs $20 to remove, and loose recycles cost only $5 per ton to remove from campus, he added.
Sarah Rafacz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (814) 865-1828. Follow her on Twitter @sarahrafacz.