Greenville Technical College achieved first place in the Grand Champion category of the Recyclemania competition among competing colleges and universities in South Carolina, a competition category that measures the percentage of waste recycled. Greenville Tech recycles 53 percent of all refuse, achieving an overall ranking of #22 out of 605 participants. Greenville Tech is in good company in South Carolina, with the state's top five Grand Champions including Furman University, Clemson University, Erskine College, and the University of South Carolina.
Recyclemania is a competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs designed to encourage waste reduction activities. During an eight-week period each spring, colleges from across the United States and Canada report the amount of recycling and trash collected each week and are ranked in nine different categories including collecting the most waste on a per person basis, recycling rate as a percentage of overall waste, producing the least amount of recyclables and trash per person, and recycling the highest gross tonnage.
The Grand Champion category combines trash and each of the core recyclable materials to determine an institution's recycling rate as a percentage of its overall waste generation. To be ranked in this category, colleges must provide their trash, paper, cardboard and can and bottle weights. A high rank in this category indicates reduced trash disposal through waste prevention along with an effective recycling program.
Greenville Tech became serious about recycling on campus in 2008 when a recycling coalition led by biology faculty members began encouraging students and employees to recycle, reuse, and reduce. The group first celebrated Earth Day in 2008 with Earth Fest, an event aimed at leading the campus community toward environmental responsibility. The effort led to a strong partnership with Keep Greenville County Beautiful, part of Keep America Beautiful.
"It's exciting to me to see that our efforts are paying off," said Kathy Ferrell, a biology instructor who has been instrumental in establishing sustainability programs on campus. "The Recyclemania competition is a fun way to show that each of us has the ability to impact the environment through our daily decisions and practices."
"In addition to the obvious benefits to the environment, we are finding that many of the recycling programs pay for themselves," said Scott Wilbanks, Greenville Tech's Director of Property Management. "For instance, labor costs associated with recycling have been offset by a reduction in the number of bulk waste containers required, resulting in greatly reduced container rental and haul-off fees."
Greenville Technical College was recently recognized nationally as an innovator in sustainability education by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and its Sustainability Education and Economic Development (SEED) Center. Recognition was based on changes in the way the college educates and operates. Green building science has been incorporated into the Architectural and Construction Engineering Technology programs, which include a new Solar Technician Certificate. Many short-term courses are also offered in the "green jobs" category through the college's Corporate and Career Development Division for continuing learners. These offerings include everything from the basics of green building to more comprehensive offerings such as the Green Supply Chain Certificate.