April 19, 2019 | 73° F

New RUSA committee will focus on campus sustainability


File photo | A new RUSA committee hopes to recycle trash throughout the year and especially during football games at High Point Solutions Stadium.

Students heading a new Rutgers University Student Assembly task force are dedicating their summer to reducing the school's carbon footprint.

Emily Arezzi, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, chairs the Sustainability Committee, which is devoted to promoting a zero-waste mentality and increasing support for campus sustainability initiatives through research and planning. 

The committee will begin implementing initiatives and reaching out to the student body during the 2016 Fall Semester.

"RU Composting on the Game Day Recycling Initiative" is the committee's first initiative. It is a plan to increase recycling efforts at High Point Solutions Stadium during football games.

School of Arts and Sciences Junior and RUSA member Cecilia Salazar is researching existing sustainability initiatives used by Rutgers and other Big Ten schools to reduce waste throughout the football season. 

Salazar is trying to find the University's landfill diversion rate, the percentage of waste recycled out of total waste produced during games. 

“If we can make it into the top-10 of total pounds (recycled) we should be able to make it into the top-10 of how much waste we diverted from landfills,” Salazar said.

“I hope this sustainability committee will help promote the incredible success that we already have on campus,” she said.

The committee has been reaching out to other Big Ten schools to find out what initiatives they use and what has proved successful in reducing waste.

The initiatives will involve a multiple departments on campus as well as possible governmental facilities, Salazer said. 

She hopes funding can come from sponsorships, local businesses or corporate sponsors such as Johnson & Johnson.

“We need to reach out to (the) Rutgers administration about how important it it to take on this issue now, as opposed to next year, or the year," she said. “(Climate change) isn't something we can wipe under the rug ... This is something we need to address now and as soon as possible.”

She also feels Rutgers needs to join other universities that have been implementing recycling and other sustainability initiatives into their campuses.

More than 12 organizations promoting sustainable living and development currently exist on campus, and Salazar hopes that the Sustainability Committee will help unite them.

As of now, research is still being done to develop practical programs, but Salazar said all Rutgers students will be encouraged to participate during the school year.

“By the start of next semester, you will be hearing a lot from the sustainability committee about different ways for students to get involved," she said.

Already this year, Rutgers has made strides in recycling. 

The University participated in and won Recyclemania 2016 as well as the Recycling Game Day Challenge. The school recycled more than 32 thousand pounds of waste last football season.

Gabriela Amaral

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