Environmentalists, student leaders and University officials all agree: Penn is sending too much of its trash to the dump.
Student environmental leaders said that Penn doesn't recycle as well as its Ivy League peers and presented their proposal for better conservation on campus at yesterday's University Council meeting.
Under the current system, each building on campus is responsible for maintaining a recycling plan, said College junior and Green Campus Partnership Director Bonnie Waring, who made a presentation along with College junior and GCP Associate Director Michael Poll, a Daily Pennsylvanian photographer. Many buildings, Waring added, choose not to recycle at all.
Penn "lags behind its peers in the Ivy League," she said, with regard to conservation initiatives.
According to the students' presentation, Penn is ranked lowest in the Ivy League as far as the percentage of waste that is recycled - around 12 percent - and is the only school without someone to oversee such an initiative.
Environmental advocates called for a University-wide recycling plan, a commitment to environmentally sound building practices and oversight and the hiring of a "sustainability coordinator" who would run environmental initiatives.
Representatives speaking on behalf of the Green Campus Partnership and the Penn Environmental Group - student-led groups that promote environmentally friendly programs on campus - presented before University President Amy Gutmann, other officials and members of student-leadership groups. They not only gave recommendations, but also commented on the state of Penn's environmental policies.
The presenters said that other schools manage to fare much better.
Cornell University has the highest rate of recycling, with 57 percent of waste recycled. The school ranked second-to-last, Brown University, recycles 21 percent of its waste, according to a fact sheet prepared by the GCP - nearly 10 percentage points ahead of Penn.
The response to the plan from officials was positive.
Following the presentation, Gutmann expressed support for continuing discussions with student leaders about sustainability.
Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli said Penn already has initiatives dedicated to conservation and recycling, but agreed "that more can be done in these areas."
The presenters did give Penn credit for its work so far toward promoting the use of renewable energy - the University purchases wind power for 30 percent of its energy needs - and earlier attempts at promoting recycling.
Dan Garofalo, a senior Facilities planner, said that a large wind power purchase is in many ways easier than coordinating a campus-wide recycling program.
It is a challenge for his office, Garofalo said, to "forge a series of central policies" for Penn's 12 academic schools and its many off-campus properties, each with its own waste-management plan already in place.
Student leaders working with the environmental groups also recognize the administrative hurdles they face.
College junior Sarah Abroms - the Undergraduate Assembly's executive vice chairwoman who has been working with the Green Campus Partnership and the Penn Environmental Group - said that promoting awareness is the first step in overcoming the decentralized state of University recycling programs.
The UA has already passed three proposals supporting sustainability initiatives, said UA Chairman and Wharton senior Brett Thalmann, and will consider another one soon.
It is University administrators, not students, however, who will ultimately decide the future of a campus-wide conservation program, Waring said.
"The ball is in their court," she said. "We could have very positive developments, or nothing could happen at all - it's up to them."Comments powered by Disqus
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