Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

University makes major investment in recycling program

The DU Sustainability Council’s Reduce/Reuse/Recycle committee has landed substantial University funding for recycling efforts.

Charlie Coggeshall, an active member of the council and a Daniels College of Business master’s degree candidate with a focus on environmental management, says the University has committed more than $100,000 this fiscal year, as well as ongoing operating and staff support, to energize the recycling program on campus. One goal is to place single-stream recycling bins in prominent locations in every building on campus.

It’s not a small effort, he says, but it’s a task that could not only increase the amount of materials that are recycled, but also boost awareness and help spread the word that DU is committed to a cleaner, greener world.

“Recycling, I think, was one of the points that was most visible on campus and the easiest to improve,” Coggeshall says. “It’s going to take a lot of work, but it’s right there. A university should be the most progressive place in the city, leading the way. And we want to be leaders in recycling.”

“A consistent, effective campus-wide recycling program is an essential first step toward meeting DU’s commitment to sustainability,” says law Professor Fred Cheever, who chairs the Sustainability Council. “Recycling is not just important because it reduces waste and greenhouse gas emissions. The presence of an effective recycling program fosters awareness of the impact of our consumption and the role we all have to play in reducing it.”

In addition to new recycling bins, Coggeshall says he expects to promote recycling through informational signage. The new bins will be “single stream,” meaning participants can toss all their recyclables, from newspapers to cans, into the same bin.

The new budget provides for the extra staffing it will take to recycle so aggressively and allows for the purchase of a truck to haul the materials. DU Facilities Director Jeff Bemelen says the University is considering using a truck that runs on cleaner-burning natural gas for the job.

The campus community should start to see the improved recycling program roll out this fall.

Meanwhile, Daniels Professor Glenn Mueller is tackling another issue, curbing some intracampus mailings before they end up in a recycling bin.

Mueller collected every flyer, brochure, advertisement and announcement he received in his campus mailbox throughout the winter quarter. He ended up with a stack of 52 pieces, from single-page paper notices to multi-page glossy brochures, all for on-campus events and activities.

With scores of mailings each year multiplied by thousands of DU employees and other recipients, Mueller estimates hundreds of thousands of printed pages are wasted each year when e-mail would do instead. If nothing else, Mueller says it would be better for the environment if senders would at least consider using e-mail before printing flyers.

Cheever says the Reduce/Reuse/Recycle committee of the Sustainability Council is considering Mueller’s observation.

The University of Denver Sustainability Council was developed after Chancellor Robert Coombe signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment on June 5, 2007. The council — composed of students, faculty and staff — aims to help DU meet its sustainability promise and promote sustainability in the University’s culture, curriculum and research. Meetings are held the first Thursday of each month and are open to the public. For more information, visit the council Web site or e-mail

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