In keeping with the spirit of Villanovans igniting change, Villanova University Recycling began with a small spark of change that has ignited into a robust program, fueled by the entire campus community’s energy. While the program has grown from its humble beginnings in 1990 this change has been a gradual burn. At its inception, the program recycled three different materials with a recycling rate of under 10 percent. Today the program recycles more than 20 different materials at a recycling rate of nearly 57 percent. Villanovans now recycle four times the amount of material than they did when the program started.
In 1990, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania passed the law PA Act 101, which mandated that institutions like the University must recycle. Initially, the program recycled white office paper, corrugated cardboard and aluminum cans. In the past 30 years, many initiatives have helped to expand recycling programs.
In 1995, Villanova recognized that successful expansion of the recycling program would require guided vision and branding to promote itself the campus community. In support of this initiative, a full time Recycling Coordinator was hired and a recycling logo was created.
As community awareness about recycling has grown over the years, so has the program’s momentum. Each new product that was added to the recycling stream served as a milestone for the program’s evolution. Villanova now recycles glass, plastics, mixed paper, yard waste, food waste, electronic waste, construction waste and automotive waste. We are continuously evaluating our recycling program and looking for ways to expand upon the list of recyclable items, however, recycling is never as good as reducing waste in general. Always refuse, reduce, or reuse before even thinking about recycling.
Currently, worldwide recycling programs are in jeopardy. Foreign policy and recycling markets have substantially changed in just the past few years, driving the cost of recycling programs to extreme highs. Just a few short years ago, there was a positive monetary value for materials mined through recycling programs. Money received through the recycling of such material would support and sustain recycling programs. In just 2 years, that all changed. Now, it costs more to recycle an item than it does to just throw it in the trash. This market flip has caused some municipalities and organizations to make changes to their recycling programs, or even suspend them entirely. At Villanova University, we continue to support recycling despite the rising cost, but we need your help to keep our programs healthy. Familiarizing yourself with proper recycling procedures on campus, minimizing contamination of recycling bins, and working to reduce your waste will help us keep recycling programs available for years to come.
As Villanova University Recycling looks ahead to the future and establishes new goals, we will always recognize our humble beginnings, learning from the successes of the past two decades and harnessing the positive energy that burns throughout the Villanova community which were initiated by that first small spark of change.