Recycling becomes competitive for West Point cadets
February 16, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Feb. 16, 2011) -- Recycling in the Corps of Cadets has just gotten competitive.
The U.S. Military Academy has joined more than 600 colleges across the nation in the 2011 Recyclemania Tournament. The eight-week competition was established by the College and University Recycling Council, in coordination with Keep America Beautiful and the Environmental Protection Agency\'s WasteWise program.
West Point Class of 2012 Cadet Devin Redding is steering the efforts within the Corps of Cadets with Class of 2011 Cadet Jon Hendricks, the brigade's energy and environmental officer.
It may seem an overwhelming task, getting 4,000-plus cadets to become recycle-conscious in their daily routines. Fortunately, there's a select group of cadet representatives; one for each company, to make sure they stay competitive.
"There's always been a recycling program here, but it hasn't always been enforced," Redding said. "We're implementing it fully now and adding incentives which will encourage cadets to recycle more."
Lt. Col. Mark Smith, one of the founding members of the West Point Energy Council, was at the meeting in early February when all the recycling representatives were briefed by Redding and Hendricks. The goals and procedures for the revamped recycling program were reviewed, which also introduced the new collection point for recyclables in the basement of Washington Hall. Smith wished he had a camera to capture the moment.
"In my mind this was a significant event for West Point," Smith said. "Not in my five years at West Point have we had this kind of involvement and organization on recycling from the cadets. I think you're going to see a new and improved Recycle Program."
It also helps the cause knowing there's a major incentive coming from the Directorate of Cadet Activities. DCA has agreed to reimburse cadet companies for redeemable bottles and cans, as well as offering cash incentives for the top three companies that recycle the most. Redding told the representatives they're responsible for promoting this campaign and its success will be based on the enthusiasm they produce within their respective companies.
"We wanted to incentivize recycling to really get cadets excited and motivated about this new program and give something back to the Corps," Redding said. "Actually, I think the motivation is already there in the Corps of Cadets. From what I've seen, people want to recycle. This is just the perfect timing, where we can get a really strong recycling program up and running in the Corps and combine it with Recyclemania."
Nickels and dimes may not seem motivating at all considering the work involved, but Redding wants cadets to think long-term.
"It really adds up over time. If you have 130 cadets in your company, and they each recycle one can per day, you can make $45 per week, $182 per month and a little under $1,500 per academic year," Redding said.
The Corps of Cadets are recycling all materials, to include paper and cardboard, but only the cans and bottles currently will reap the benefits for a company's activities fund. When the competition ends April 2, the company collecting the most recyclables will receive $1,000 from DCA with other cash rewards for second and third place. It's a win-win endeavor, Hendricks said, because in addition to the money earned from redeeming cans and bottles, three companies' funds will grow from recycling the most.
"A lot of companies enjoy the traditional dining in event, but sometimes the company funds can't cover the costs and it requires every cadet to pitch in," Hendricks said. "If a company puts their efforts in recycling, it could almost pay for the entire event."
While the internal competition is unique in that it firmly establishes a recycling mindset in the Corps of Cadets while rewarding companies who perform the best, the nationwide tournament also holds bragging rights. Can West Point beat Air Force and Coast Guard' With six million students participating and a million more faculty and staff, what kind of impact will West Point make in this competition'
"We thrive off of rivalry and competition, and I think a lot of people want to say we're No. 1," Hendricks said. "And it's not just about money either, it's about recycling. Money is a great incentive, but we want cadets to think more about this new recycling program."
While Redding and Hendricks are the lead cadets for this competition, the initiative originated from Maj. Andy Pfluger, instructor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, and the cadets within that program. Also assisting are Class of 2011 Cadets Chelsea Hunkler, last semester's brigade energy and environmental officer and Dan Thueneman, Engineers and Scientists for a Sustainable World president.
Academic departments can also participate in Recyclemania by increasing their efforts to place recyclables in the appropriate bins within their Academic areas.
Weekly results from the competition will be posted each Friday at www.recyclemania.org.