Do Students Know How to Properly Recycle on Campus?

Here at UW-Whitewater, recycling is a staple in our campus community. Unfortunately, the extent of recycling for most students goes as far as throwing food and other disposable items in the garbage, and aluminum cans in the aluminum specified bins. However, there is much more to recycling than students may be aware of.

It is estimated that approximately 254 million tons of waste is recycled per year and at UW-Whitewater, staff and faculty members are putting an emphasis on the importance of proper recycling.

“Proper recycling in Whitewater is separating out your paper, plastic, cans, so a lot of the things that are typically recognized as recycling is important,” Sustainability Coordinator, Wesley Enterline explained. “What most people have trouble with is the types of plastics that can or can’t be recycled.”

Enterline believes that close to 100 percent of students recognize that aluminum cans can be recycled, but only 10 to 20 percent truly understand what can and can’t be recycled.

“I recycle anything that I know can be recycled, but I’m sure there are things that I didn’t know can be recycled that I don’t recycle,” Student Sean Ladzinski said.

Student Jaylen Schrader said he does his best to recycle, but does not know everything that is recyclable.

“Whatever I can recycle, I just throw it in the bin,” he said.

On campus, the following items can be tossed into the blue recycling canisters: flattened cardboard, newspapers, magazines, catalogs, white paper, phone books, paperback books, junk mail, envelopes, cereal and shoeboxes, shredded paper put in clear bags, tin cans, empty spray cans, aluminum cans, clear, green and brown glass containers, plastic containers, bottles and jugs labeled #1-7 and small metal items such as pots and pans.

Recyclables provide savings for the community by reducing the amount of garbage disposed into the ever-growing landfill. It also saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions that harm the environment.

To promote the importance of recycling, UW-Whitewater hosts RecycleMania each spring. RecycleMania is an eight-week competition that encourages colleges across the United States and Canada to track the amount of recycling and trash collected each week. Once the amount has been recorded, it is then submitted into various categories based on who recycles the most on a per capita basis, as well as the overall best recycling percentage rate.

During RecycleMania 2016, Starin Hall took home first place, followed by Fricker Hall in second and Bigelow/Fischer Hall in third. The goals of RecycleMania are to first, encourage students and staff to increase recycling awareness, second, promote campus recycling programs, third, motivate colleges to measure and assess their recycling habits and of course, lastly, have a little friendly competition.

Additionally, Enterline maintains the UWWSustainability YouTube account. He uploads videos about recycling, food waste, sustainable living and much more. Be sure to subscribe to his channel and stay up to date on all environmental related content.

If you’re interested in getting involved and would like to learn more about recycling, sustainable living or upcoming events, visit the UW-Whitewater Sustainability page at or contact Wesley Enterline at

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