History of the BGSU Recycling Program
The Recycling Program began in 1986, as a volunteer effort by University students, led by Brian Goetz, for the sole purpose of collecting aluminum cans. The Center for Environmental Programs supported the group and the revenue generated from the sales of the cans kept the program running. In the spring of 1990, with aluminum can revenue higher than expected, the program began an office paper collection project in ten offices. It was successful; however, further funding prohibited its' expansions to other offices.
The program was at a standstill because of the lack of funds for operations. In the winter of 1991, the University agreed to a cost-avoidance approach with the BGSU Recycling Program. For every ton of garbage hauled from the campus, a fee of over $35, at the time, was paid to the landfill. Through the cost-avoidance approach, the BGSU Recycling Program was to be credited that fee for every ton of material recycled instead of landfilled. This arrangement was the key to making the recycling program successful.
With funding, the program was able to increase its number of paid employees and begin the collection of cardboard and glass. Office paper collection was also increased.
During the spring semester of 1992, the number of employees increased to a total of 10. Plastic was added, and curbside pickup was established for every Greek unit on campus. The program also became eligible for grant funds through Wood County Solid Waste District. These funds covered all capital equipment expenditures for the program. This included the purchase of recycling crates and barrels and the purchase of white cargo vans for hauling the recyclables.
In 1993 a campus survey found that ninety-three percent of students supported an increase in student fees to bring the program into full-scale operation. In the fall of 1993, the University approved the request to take $1.50 per student per semester out of the general fee for the Recycling Program. This allotment gave the program the financial stability it needed. Craig Wittig was hired as BGSU's first (and to date, only) full-time recycling coordinator and was responsible for managing the program.
A $30,000 grant in the fall of 1993 allowed the Recycling Program to purchase more recycling containers. These personal brown bins were distributed to every residence hall room on campus by the spring semester. They were also distributed to all offices on campus participating in recycling. The number of employees almost doubled to 18. The Recycling Program was the recipient of the "Take Pride, Ohio Award", in the Spring of 1994 for excellence in operating a recycling program. A total of 515 tons of material was recycled that year.
During the fall of 1994, 25 student employees worked for the program. Several pilot projects were tested, including food waste and polystyrene. The Recycling Program began to recycle nontraditional items including used furniture and mattresses. A public relations department was added to increase campus awareness about recycling.
The Recycling Program operates year round, under the supervision of the Physical Plant. Books were added in the fall of 1995, in addition to the collection of aluminum and steel cans, glass, plastic bottles #1 & #2, newspaper, magazines, mixed office paper, cardboard, pallets, used printer ribbons, and miscellaneous material. The program is all student-powered, except for the full time coordinator.
Through additional support and funding the Recycling Program at BGSU continues to grow at an astonishing rate.Â Currently the program has recycled over 11,600 tons of materials since 1994.Â In the 2007 school year alone, the BGSU Recycling Program made a total of $45,155 in sales of recyclables and avoided over $28,800 in landfill charges.