Nine area colleges and universities from the bi-state converged at St. Louis Community College-Meramec on November 29, 2011 to learn more about waste management strategies and to consider and fight for best practices leading up to 2012 RecycleMania from January to March. The St. Louis Regional Higher Education Sustainability Consortium (HESC) invited representatives from Waste Management, Aspen, and Midwest Recycling Center to share their strategies for handling trash, recycling, composting and electronics. Jeff Macko at St. Louis University (SLU) has negotiated a way to measure their RecycleMania trash and recycling by having Waste Management run their campuses like a wee city–taking the full trucks back for weights. This works for SLU because of their size. It is understandably costly to run a truck for one small campus back to the scales, then out again to area businesses. So another best practice was negotiated with Aspen by Peggy Lauer, Director of Sustainability at Maryville University. Aspen offers scales on each truck that can capture a weight at each bin and tally those weights onto their invoice. This practice of tying weights to payment assures Maryville getting their measurement in a timely fashion.
Getting accurate weights was one big frustration by participating schools last year. At STLCC, I had to calculate volume-to-weights because my recycling hauler does not have the equipment to provide actual pounds. Another snafoo that occured for my measurements came from my trash hauler who summed our trash with 5 other companies. That week’s measurement was 5 time larger than the week before! I called to ask if we were being combined with an anvil company. What I learned keenly is that participating in RecycleMania is a journey–there is yet no exact science yet in the trash biz. What I also learned is despite not having true numbers, we are BILLED as if there are true numbers. As a consortium, we with our numbers, want this to change.
Midwest Recycling Center (featured in many earlier blogs) shared about the collaboration with STLCC to collect 232,767 lbs at no cost to the college and community because of grant support from the St. Louis-Jefferson County Solid Waste Management District (SWMD). Linda Adams, from the SWMD, urged the HESC schools to follow suit to get supporting monies to make their recycling programs happen. Steve Fishman from the regional EPA urged our consortium schools to sign up for Waste Wise program focuing on composting.
I felt proud to have STLCC host this important regional event. Acting Vice President of Academics, Dr. Vernon Kays, gave a warm welcome and honored our work gathering to share best practices.
Our next HESC luncheon will be in January at Maryville University where the discussing and sharing will focus on Green Purchasing.