Residents in Residence: How To Help Students Recycle

Struggling to get the recycling program off the ground at your university? We’re all too familiar with the challenges that come with implementing and maintaining campus recycling initiatives.

But now, we’re sharing what we know about helping with recycling programs to save universities money, bolster their reputation, and help educate a new generation to be more eco-friendly and conscious. We’ll also show you how ReCollect’s products, including Waste Wizard, Collection Calendar, Waste Sorting Game, and Mobile App will help.

Promoting Campus Recycling Programs

Recycling on campus has been shown to reduce environmental impact, save money, and build a positive reputation for the school. And while these are great reasons to start or continue recycling efforts at your university, they may not be enough to motivate everyone on campus to participate. Luckily, there are many ways to help increase recycling rates and make the campus more sustainable.

(You can also read about the top reasons to go digital with recycling communications for campuses here)

How to Boost Recycling Rates on Campus
As anyone who has ever tried to set up a campus recycling program knows, getting students to participate can be a real challenge. Here are just a few ideas to boost recycling rates and make your campus more sustainable.

Make it easy

One of the biggest barriers to recycling is simply the inconvenience of having to sort materials into different bins. To make things easier for students (and staff), consider implementing single-stream recycling. This means all recyclable materials can go into the same bin.

Educate and engage

Sometimes all it takes is a little education to get people on board with recycling. Make sure students know about your campus recycling program and why it’s important. You can also get them involved by holding competitions or other events that encourage recycling.

(Download our recycling fact sheet here!)

Get creative

There are all sorts of ways to make recycling more fun and engaging. One popular idea is to set up campus-wide “recycling scavenger hunts” where teams of students compete to see who can collect the most recyclable materials.

(Our Waste Sorting Game is another great way to make recycling more fun! Share it with campus residents to help them learn how to recycle properly in a fun, easy, and resource-friendly way)

Offer incentives

Everyone loves a good incentive, so consider offering rewards for students who recycle. For example, you could give out discounts at campus stores or restaurants, or even enter students into a raffle to win prizes.

With a little effort, you can make your campus more sustainable and help reduce the amount of waste going into landfills. Students will appreciate your efforts, and you’ll be doing your part to help the environment.

Communicating Campus Recycling Programs

We’ve talked about boosting recycling rates on campus, but it’s also worth mentioning how you can more effectively communicate the ongoing recycling efforts of the academic institution.

(Have changes you need to communicate now? You’re in luck! Our Mobile App allows you to stay connected to people in real-time!)

Whether you’re a campus coordinator, sustainability manager, or residence life employee, you know firsthand the challenges of getting a message to stick with the students on campus. When it comes to implementing a campus recycling program, this can be particularly challenging.

With that in mind, here are some tips for educating your campus about the recycling initiatives taking place on campus:

  • Use ReCollect’s Collection Calendar tool to let students know when and where to recycle. This will help increase campus recycling rates and save money.
  • ReCollect’s Waste Wizard tool also helps educate students about recycling so they can quickly learn what goes in what bin. Real-time digital information is trustworthy, intuitive, and easy to use for anyone.
  • Use signage around campus to remind students of the campus recycling program. This helps keep the program top of mind and makes it easy for students to participate.

Finally, be sure to celebrate your successes! Let students know when campus recycling goals are met and how their efforts have made a difference. This will help keep them motivated to continue participating in the program.

(We share more strategies for being effective in your waste recycling communications in this post)

The Long Term

As with all recycling programs, your campus recycling program will need a long-term strategy to ensure continued participation and improvement. Also, consider that students come and go, so it’s important to continue the conversation and flow of information to new students.

One way to do this is to identify and target confusing items and top contaminators one at a time. You may already have this information from audits or your searchable database. If not, ask your champions and hauler to gather observations.

Once you have identified an issue, you can run short-term, single-item campaigns to be shared via social media, building signage, and other online platforms. (The Recycling Partnership also now provides a Recycling Anti-Contamination Kit to help guide educational initiatives.)

Don’t forget to set new goals for your buildings and continue to help them develop the program internally. Challenges can be fun! They also keep the importance of campus recycling programs front and center.

The Reward

Share successes on all levels:

  • Champions who chose to benchmark should have some great estimates to share, and they should be shared with the whole campus.
  • Post success stories to social media and share them with the local media. Your efforts may even inspire others to join the movement.
  • It’s important to remember that even individual recycling efforts have a big impact and should be rewarded. No reward is too small. Perhaps you have some recycling swag or new campus recycling bins or bags to distribute. If your budget allows, perhaps you could even create a “thank you” event for your champions.

Rewards get people talking and will help to shine a light on all the hard work being accomplished by the campus recyclers and program stakeholders at your institution.

Would you like to talk more about implementing your campus recycling program and how we can help? Book a meeting!