Campus recycling efforts noticed

Youngstown State University’s recycling program recently received a grant that will help support its award-winning services.

After applying for a grant through Keep America Beautiful, Dan Kuzma, manager of the recycling program, received 72 new recycling bins for the university. They’ll be used for special outdoor events and tailgating at YSU football games.

Without the grant, the bins might have cost YSU between $3,600 and $5,000, he said.

Since 2000, recycling has become a vital part of managing waste at the university, Kuzma said. As a result, recycling has helped recover more than 10 million pounds of recycling, reuse and compost.

YSU received national recognition in 2003 and 2004 from the U.S. EPA WasteWise Program.

The university was also the first in Ohio to compost food waste and adopt a “Dump and Run” reuse collection during move-out at the residence halls.

“All of this is extremely positive for YSU,” Kuzma said. “All of the recycling program’s success is due to the participation from students, faculty, staff and support from the Mahoning County Solid Waste District.”

Partnered with the Coca-Cola Foundation, Keep America Beautiful was able to provide 44 grants to colleges and universities across the country.

YSU was the only school in Ohio to receive this grant in a competitive and comparative selection process.

“YSU had a fairly strong application, and part of the criteria was an established program that demonstrated how bins would be put to good use,” said Alec Cooley, director of recycling programs at Keep America Beautiful. “At the end of the day, we wanted to give the grant to the university that we felt would have the greatest impact on recycling.”

Recycling has always been important to Kuzma, who became involved with the program in 2002 as a student employee.

He said recycling not only has environmental benefits, but it also supports the local and state economies through industries that collect, sort and recycle waste resources into new products for consumers.

“The fact that I can easily recycle a piece of paper locally and obtain the end product by purchasing a paper product with post-consumer, recycled-content material demonstrates the tangible results of recycling without too much effort on my part,” Kuzma said.

Danny DiRienzo, a YSU recycling program employee since January, said choosing to recycle is an easy decision. He added that he hopes students will take advantage of services that the program provides.

“YSU is a pretty busy place during the day. As students, we’re constantly holding on to recyclables such as old papers and empty bottles,” DiRienzo said.

Tyler Snodgrass, another YSU recycling program employee, said more bins will give the university more useful opportunities.

“It’s kind of like the more, the merrier,” Snodgrass said. “The more bins available to students and faculty means more recyclable materials will avoid being thrown in the trash and increasing landfills.”

Junior Ryan Racketa said recycling is not something he thinks about often — but it’s something that is important.

“If the bins were by the trash cans, I’d make sure to throw it in the recycling bin,” Racketa said.