Student project expands recycling at Rice athletics facilities

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Sophia Erhard

For their final project in the course CEVE 307: Energy and the Environment, students Emmanuel Ellerbee, Sophia Erhard, Ansley Jones ‘16, and Ryan Saathoff ‘16 focused their efforts on increasing recycling rates at three of Rice’s athletics facilities. The project, entitled “Recycle Rice”, was an extension of an initiative in the 2014-2015 school year led by civil and environmental engineering major Emi LaFountain ‘15 in conjunction with members from the Rice Environmental Club. In the previous recycling project, the team conducted an inventory of the locations of existing recycling and trash bins for various academic and residential buildings, and then identified locations where new recycling bins should be placed. They then obtained funding from various sources to fund the purchase of the new recycling bins. By the end of their project, 367 new indoor recycling bins were distributed across 39 buildings with the help of 20 volunteers. Due to the sheer scope of the previous recycling project, the athletics facilities were excluded in the 2014-2015 auditing process.

Seeing the need for improved recycling in athletics facilities, Ellerbee originally conceived of the project based on his own experience as a linebacker on the football team. While using the weight, training, and locker rooms, he noticed a significant amount of trash being generated after every practice and game that could be recycled. “There were plastic protein shake bottles, paper plates, and cardboard athletic tape rolls all being used on a day-to-day basis, and this is what the contents of a trash can within Rice Athletics looks like. All these things can be recycled,” said Ellerbee.

After meeting with Richard Johnson, the Director of the Administrative Center for Sustainability and Energy Management, the team selected three facilities (Tudor Fieldhouse, Reckling Park, and Rice Stadium) and structured their project methods based on LaFountain’s original project. Following a process of observing and auditing each athletic facility in partnership with the respective facility managers, the team developed a set of recommendations that included adding 82 new recycling bins. The team obtained funding to implement their recommendations thanks to a grant from the Rice Environmental Society. The bins were ordered by Custodial and Grounds Director Eusebio Franco, and the student project team installed the bins in May.

The student team estimates that Rice should expect to divert 13,749 pounds per year of materials from the landfill to recycling thanks to their project.