During the student move-in time period this year, Vanderbilt successfully recycled 32.66 tons of cardboard. This number is an 83 percent increase in cardboard recycling from last year, and a 400 percent increase in cardboard recycling since 2008.
This huge accomplishment was the result of strong collaboration between the Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility (SPEAR) 130 Cardboard Crew student volunteers, Plant Operations groundskeeping group, and Sustainability and Environmental Management Office (SEMO).
This large-scale operation moves in about 1,600 first year students in just one day while the remainder of undergraduate students move in over the course of a few days. Enormous amounts of cardboard are generated from boxes used for packing as well as packaging for new items being purchased like televisions, microwaves, etc. In addition to cardboard, plastic film wrapping and Styrofoam are also recycled. Water stations in lieu of bottled water are also set up during this time to reduce plastic waste.
This year, students were extremely cooperative and knowledgeable that the cardboard should be recycled, helping to increase the amount collected in special dumpsters set out throughout campus to accept only cardboard waste for recycling. Increased signage also was helpful.
For more information about recycling on campus and during large events, please visit SustainVU.