Coffman sidewalk turns into landfill

A passerby walks past more than six tons of garbage in front of Coffman Union on Wednesday. The temporary landfill was part of RecycleMania, a national recycling competition in which over 500 schools compete.

Marija Majerle

A passerby walks past more than six tons of garbage in front of Coffman Union on Wednesday. The temporary landfill was part of RecycleMania, a national recycling competition in which over 500 schools compete.

The sidewalk in front of Coffman Union was turned into a temporary landfill Wednesday after a garbage truck dumped more than six tons of waste there as part of the kickoff for RecycleMania, a national recycling competition. Workers from Facilities Management spent the morning digging through some of the 13,000 pounds of trash, a fraction of the 74,000 pounds of waste the University of Minnesota generates daily, to show students how much recyclable material still ends up in the trash each day. After five hours of work Wednesday, Dana Donatucci , recycling manager for Facilities Management , and his team had sorted through about 200 pounds of garbage. Donatucci said they found 76 pounds of recyclable materials in the garbage and an additional 36 pounds of organics. RecyelMania began in 2001 as a competition between two Ohio universities to see which school could recycle the most over a 10 week period. Eight years later, there are 510 schools registered for the 2009 competition, when schools will compete for titles like least waste produced and most material recycled. Donatucci said although the University has participated in RecycleMania in previous years, the competition had been limited to the residence halls.

University Recycling Coordinator Dana Donatucci sorts through trash in front of Coffman Union. After five hours of working, Donatucci and his team had sorted through roughly 200 pounds of garbage.
MARIJA MAJERLE, DAILY

This year, the competition was opened up to the whole campus, and Donactucci said he hopes the competitive spirit will help drive the campaign and encourage students to focus on recycling. âÄúThis is where you canâÄôt be on the sidelines,âÄù Donatucci said. âÄúYouâÄôve got to participate. YouâÄôve got to be out there recycling.âÄù Amy Short , sustainability coordinator at the University, said WednesdayâÄôs event was a good way for students, especially new students, to find out about RecycleMania and recycling at the University. âÄúYouâÄôve got a new flood of students coming through every year,âÄù Short said, âÄúso it helps to highlight it for people who arenâÄôt aware of it.âÄù Josh Kiley , an anthropology sophomore who works for Facilities Management and helped sort through trash Wednesday, said before he started working for Facilities Management, he was âÄúunawareâÄù of how much recyclable material still makes it into the trash, and said he thinks many students are still oblivious. âÄúIf you make recycling just as easy as throwing something away,âÄù Kiley said, âÄúpeople will make the right choice 90 percent of the time.âÄù In addition to being able to reuse recycled material, Short noted that recycling leads to energy savings for the University. For every pound of recycling, two pounds of carbon dioxide emissions is saved, Donatucci said. RecycleMania continues for the next eight weeks, and Donatucci said he and his team are going to continue working so the University can place near the top of the competition. âÄúWe want to win,âÄù he said.