MSA eyes long-term goal of increasing UMN campus recycling

MSA implemented a pilot organics recycling program in the residential hall over spring break.

Environmental science and management sophomore Claudia Althoen explains the Minnesota Student Association's organics initiative to student Paige Adams in Yudof Hall on Friday, March 10, 2017.

Chris Dang

Environmental science and management sophomore Claudia Althoen explains the Minnesota Student Association’s organics initiative to student Paige Adams in Yudof Hall on Friday, March 10, 2017.

Natalie Rademacher

As part of larger sustainability efforts, Yudof Hall residents can now recycle organics.

The Minnesota Student Association and the University of Minnesota Recycling Program worked together to put organics recycling bins in first-floor apartments of Yudof Hall. The long-term goal for the MSA Sustainability Committee is to implement organics recycling in all residential halls, said committee chair Sasha Karleusa.

Karleusa said they chose Yudof Hall because residents have kitchens and more compostable items than students in dorms. The University recycling program already collects organics from dining halls.

Recycling Supervisor Dana Donatucci said he hopes to expand and collect organics across campus. The center will use the pilot program to set up infrastructure.

“We have been talking about this for a long time,” Donatucci said. “[The recycling center] does not have the resources to do it, so it is great MSA reached out and partnered with us.”

The center has struggled to keep up with the recycling demands at the University, he said.

The recycling center started using organic recycling on campus in 2007. Today there are organics bins in Coffman Memorial Union and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

MSA met with Donatucci to plan the program. The sustainability committee created a proposal comparing other universities and their programs, Karleusa said.

“[The pilot program] allows us to analyze the difference between how much material is being put in the bins now and we can use this data later to include other floors,” said committee member Claudia Althoen.

She said MSA also plans to collect feedback from residents following the semester about the bins. She said the committee will continue to collaborate with Donatucci to see what is being collected and what can be fixed.

For the program, there is a container for each apartment. The residents can bring their waste to a larger bin in a common room in the residential hall where it will be picked up twice a week by the University Recycling Program.

Althoen said the committee went door-to-door to distribute the bins.

“You can form a personal connection that way, and the people can get an understanding of what [the bins] are used for,” Althoen said.

She said residents expressed enthusiasm for the program.

Along with the bins, the residents were also given compostable bags and a pamphlet to provide background information on organics recycling.

Althoen said this is part of a long-term goal to normalize organics recycling.

“We pick up habits in college. If we can normalize organics recycling, there is a higher chance of students bringing these [recycling] habits with them after college,” she said.