YSU No. 1 in state for recycling, 12th nationally

By Christopher Gillett

Back in February, The Jambar covered Youngstown State University’s recycling program’s success in the national tally for the ongoing college recycling competition, Campus Race to Zero Waste. The final results were announced April 15, and the university placed first in the state and 12th nationally.

Daniel Kuzma, head of the YSU recycling program, began working for it as a student employee. He graduated from YSU in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and again in 2008 with a master’s in environmental science. 

There are recycling bins all over campus, and when they fill up, custodial or student recycling staff collect them. The recyclables are transported to a recycling center called the Green Team, which is operated by the Mahoning County salt and waste district. The recyclables are then taken to a materials recovery facility for sorting. Finally, they are sold to a new user to make new products like cans, paper, plastic or cardboard.

Kuzma explained some of the biggest challenges for YSU’s recycling program.

“The biggest challenges have just been trying to maintain a clean recycling waste stream,” he said. “When we had to switch to accepting plastic bottles, that really was difficult. We tried to do an educational campaign to reach as many individuals as we possibly can, but we’re still getting individuals putting plastics that can’t be recycled [in recycling bins] four years later.”

Shirley Hodge is the administrative assistant in Campus Recreation, which is a major source of campus recycling. As one of the most “avid recyclers on campus,” she explained her relationship with YSU recycling and Kuzma.

“When I came here, there was a lot of recycling that somehow had not gotten [taken care of]. They must have changed schedules and we weren’t on it,” she said. “I just notified Dan, and he has set us up with the regular schedule.”

Jeanine Mincher is a professor in dietetics and works with the YSU recycling program through her teaching. Kuzma has been partnered with her since starting his work in the YSU recycling program, and they have been working together for at least 15 years. She explained how her program ties to the recycling program.

“One of the competencies that our students have to have is a competency in sustainability. We are always looking for opportunities to help students learn about a variety of ways to be more sustainable and more friendly to the environment, and there’s actually a sub-practice of dietetics called environmental nutrition. It’s a relatively new concept, but a lot of students are interested in it,” she said.

To view the national tally of all universities, check out recyclemania.org. If interested in volunteering for YSU recycling, contact Kuzma through email, djkuzma@ysu.edu, for  employment at YSU recycling, go to People Admin to see job postings.