The Ohio State University at Marion

Green partnership approaches zero waste goal

Higher education and state corrections partner to work toward sustainability milestone

The Ohio State University at Marion and Marion Technical College recently entered into a unique cooperative venture with Marion Correctional Institution Recycling Processing Center and Sims Brothers Recycling with the ultimate goal of becoming Ohio’s first zero waste campus.

An organization can consider itself zero waste if it reaches 90 percent recycled waste material. In the first 3 months of the program, the venture has nearly achieved its zero waste goal.

The process, which began as a pilot program in 2013 and was officially adopted by the campus in July 2014, begins with “All-In-One” containers being available in offices and locations across the Marion campus.

All solid waste materials are then sent to a centralized collection dumpster on campus provided by Sims Brothers Recycling, which the company transports to Marion Correctional Institution (MCI). MCI prisoners working at the correctional facility recycling center sort through refuse to maximize the amount of waste material being recycled and composted to minimize the campus’ ecological footprint.

The Marion campus efforts are part of also part of an overarching emphasis placed on sustainability at The Ohio State University.

“This is another step in our ongoing commitment to develop a campus that is taking a lead in sustainability efforts,” said Ohio State Marion Dean & Director, Gregory S. Rose.

“We want to serve as a model for our students entering the world beyond higher education, inspiring them to become good stewards of the environment and global citizens,” Rose added.

During the two week pilot program, 3,545 pounds of material was processed and the audit showed 89.1% of the materials generated by the campus were recyclable. The audit suggested that the Marion campus would be a good candidate for a zero waste program.

According to Marion Campus Director of Facilities and Security Ron Turner, this innovative partnership provides the campus an annual waste removal cost savings of $5,100 per year, while also keeping an annual estimate of 90 tons of waste material out of landfills annually.

As a precautionary measure, both Marion Technical College and Ohio State Marion shred confidential documents in a bulk shredder through campus facilities. MCI added another precautionary measure to safe guard personal information by sending any un-shredded documents through a shredder at the facility before prisoners begin the sorting process.

Proceeds from the recycled material fund equipment needs at the recycling processing center. The Marion campus pays a small fee to Sims for the fuel charges for hauling the dumpster from the campus to MCI.

At the end of each month, the campus receives a full report from MCI of the waste/recycling that was processed that month.