By Christopher Gillett
For the last decade, Youngstown State University has held the rank of “top recycling campus in Ohio.” It has easily defended its top state spot this year and is setting records with fifth in the nation for university recycling.
This resulted from the hard work of Daniel J. Kuzma, the head of the YSU recycling program, and all the employees of the recycling program who work behind the scenes.
Kuzma first became involved in the recycling program during his time as a YSU student. He continued to work with the program after graduation.
“It definitely was linked to it because I was an environmental studies major, so dealing with the environment, picking up recycling, working with the recycling program on various different projects — everything fit together,” Kuzma said.
He worked to promote YSU into one of the best performing schools in recycling materials. He explained how this is measured.
“We get some actual weights in that regard, and we also use volume to weight estimates [which] are formulas which are provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, so they’re universal. They’re used by all colleges, universities and other institutions [that recycle],” Kuzma said.
Among those happy with the results was YSU President Jim Tressel who, in an interview with Mahoning Matters, stated: “Our students and employees have consistently led the way across the state and nation when it comes to reducing, reusing and recycling waste. We look forward to another top-tier finish in this year’s competition, retaining our reputation as one of the most recycle-friendly university campuses in the country.”
YSU students seem to be generally unaware of this success.
Anton Donghia, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, expressed his happiness with the success, even though he was a relative bystander in it all. Donghia was also surprised he had not heard about the recycling program’s success, stating the university should advertise the program more.
“I think I’m a bit over-cautious [with recycling], where sometimes I’ll think that something might not be able to be recycled and I just throw things in the trash that maybe they can be recycled but I’m really not sure,” Donghia said.
He lives in a student apartment and is unsure of the recycling situation there.
“A lot of times, I’m going through some of my old notes and stuff and I’m ready to recycle it … and I have to go out of my way to recycle it,” Donghia said. “I’m just not knowledgeable enough about it, but I don’t know if they do or not.”
Kuzma explained that the YSU recycling program could not provide services to private locations such as the student apartments.
“The apartments are separate because they are private entities. Even if the university owns the property, it’s still a private residence, and based off of our grant funding, we’re not permitted to provide free services to private organizations,” Kuzma said. “However, I have been in touch with the managers of all of the apartment complexes, over time periods, just to provide them information with how they can get recycling services.”
As well as working to boost recycling, Kuzma has been working to spread the message about the recycling program through social media. He dealt with challenges such as misinformation around recycling.
According to Kuzma, students can become involved by applying at the Student Employment Office online. This can be found through a general search for it on any search engine. YSU Recycling will post when it’s looking to hire.
Kuzma said he hopes to bring YSU Recycling to record highs. The recycling competition continues for another six to seven weeks. Across the nation, many other colleges are also competing. Kuzma’s goal this year is to make YSU the top recycler in the state again and fifth in the nation.