Liberty’s New coordinator takes strides towards a better system for going green by implementing new recycling policies

Although Kelli Maturano has held the recycling coordinator position at Liberty University for only a few months, she has already made changes to the campus recycling program.

Maturano received her degree in sustainable development from Appalachian State University. Shortly after graduating, she moved to Virginia and started looking for a job that was related to the environment. The Liberty position opened and she took it in September.

“What my job is supposed to do is bring more recycling opportunities to campus, make it more accessible to students and staff and standardize it all,” Maturano said.

She has already made changes to Liberty’s recycling system by making recycling areas more uniform and recognizable.

“It helps a lot with recycling rates when the recycling collection areas look the same,” Maturano said.

Currently, Liberty’s recycling rate is about 20-25%, which means 75-80% of all waste is going to landfills. Maturano wants to increase recycling efforts and change the statistic. The goal is to increase the recycling rate to 40% by 2022.

She considers new bins placed in Green Hall as her greatest achievement so far. Currently the bins are mostly in staff areas of the building and in the Commuter Student Lounge, but Maturano said she is excited to see how they work with recycling efforts. She wants to eventually have them all around campus.

Previously, Liberty’s method of recycling waste collection is what Maturano calls “single-stream” recycling. That means all kinds of materials—aluminum and plastic, for example—are collected in a single compartment. 

“A lot of the time, (single-stream) recycling gets contaminated,” Maturano said. “People were just tossing in anything like a catch-all bin.” 

Maturano’s new recycling boxes change that. Instead of a single collection box, she has introduced “source-separated” recycling, with a separate box for plastic, paper, cans and trash, respectively.

“By separating out the different recycling streams, this better guarantees that what we collect is clean,” Maturano said.

Maturano said food and liquid are devastating to the effort of collecting recyclable materials in more than one way. It lowers the quality of resources like paper that are made from the recyclables, and keeps recycling material from being compressed into bales. 

“Pre-sorting helps guarantee that the recycling process runs smoothly down the road,” Maturano said.

Maturano says her efforts are going to save the university money in the future. Since Liberty sells the compressed bales, cleaner and more compact material allows more to be sold every time waste is recycled instead of thrown away.

In 2014, Liberty recycled more than 270 tons of paper, 125 tons of metal and more, according to the Liberty Journal.

Maturano said she hopes recycling continues to grow at Liberty. She started an Instagram page @libertyuniversityrecycling to help promote the program and said a group of students are interested in starting an environmental stewardship club.

Besides the obvious benefits from a more efficient recycling system, Maturano believes Liberty has a chance to get more from the program by being stewards of the earth. 

“We are a Christian campus and I think this is one way we can be leaders,” Maturano said. 

Locklear is a news reporter. Follow him on Twitter.

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