Matching funds from governor’s Opportunity Returns program increases total to $55,100
SPRINGFIELD – Recycling efforts at the University of Illinois at Springfield will be supported by a $27,550 grant from Opportunity Returns, a program initiated by Gov. Rod Blagojevich to divert recyclable commodities from Illinois landfills and to expand and enhance the state's recycling collection and processing infrastructure. The matching grants are administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
UIS will use the grant to expand collection of recyclable materials – especially paper, aluminum, and plastic – by placing collection bins at locations that were previously not served and to hire a recycling coordinator for the campus. Plans also include creating several new student worker positions and stepping up efforts to encourage all members of the campus community to recycle. Half of the total $55,100 grant will come from UIS' Division of Student Affairs.
UIS faculty members Tih-Fen Ting, assistant professor of Environmental Studies, and Marc Klingshirn, assistant professor of Chemistry, co-wrote the grant last fall with the help of student group SAGE (Students Allied for a Greener Earth). Under the direction of then-president Vera Leopold, SAGE members played an instrumental role in conducting a campus waste audit.
That audit concluded that UIS presently collects about 76 tons of recyclable materials annually. Since the grant will make it possible to place collection bins in all classrooms, individual dormitory rooms, and various outdoor areas, expectations are that an additional 5 tons of materials will be collected, raising the annual weight of recyclable commodities gathered at UIS to more than 81 tons.
Ting noted that – with the anticipated growth in UIS' student population, more students living on campus, and the opening of the new recreation center this summer – the amount could be even greater, making this program an important step toward meeting the UIS Strategic Plan's initiative to have an effective, comprehensive recycling program.
Ting and Klingshirn both emphasize that campus recycling is a collaborative effort. "Without the support of Vice Chancellor Chris Miller, as well as the housing and building services staffs and others, we would not be able to accomplish our goal," said Ting.
Said Klingshirn, "This grant is truly an indication of what can be done when faculty, administration, staff, and students work together. It's encouraging to know that the campus administration is willing to support efforts such as recycling because it shows their commitment to the environment and adopting sustainable practices to further 'green' UIS.
"A strong, comprehensive recycling program is part of the foundation to this greening," he added. "We as an educating community need to be leaders in such practices since our students and the surrounding community look to us as examples and for leadership."
Ting agreed. "As we teach our students the principles and importance of environmental stewardship and sustainability, it seems short-sighted and even hypocritical if we do not practice those principles ourselves on campus," she said. "This grant is very encouraging. It means we can actually work toward and achieve our common goals as long as we work together."