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Group installs Greenbean Recycle boxes in dorms

Published: Friday, December 7, 2012

Updated: Friday, December 7, 2012 00:12


Kyra Sturgill / The Tufts Daily

Tufts Recycles! this week installed Greenbean Recycle boxes in dorms across campus, where students can drop off recyclable cans and bottles and donate the proceeds to Timmy Global Health.


Tufts Recycles! placed 12 Greenbean Recycle boxes in on-campus dorms on Dec. 4 to launch its partnership with the nonprofit organization Timmy Global Health. 

Greenbean Recycle is a software technology company that provides universities with reverse vending machines that accept deposits of recyclable cans and bottles in exchange for five-cent refunds to a PayPal account or charity organization. There has been a Greenbean machine located in the Mayer Campus Center since January 2012. 

The refunds from bottles and cans that students deposit in the new tall, multicolored cardboard Greenbean boxes in dorm lobbies will go to Timmy Global Health, according to Tufts Program Manager of Waste Reduction Dawn Quirk, the recycling coordinator for Tufts Recycles!.

“Greenbean came up with the design [of the boxes],” she said. “The boxes have really nice graphics, and the boxes resemble the machine itself.”

Because members of Greenbean Recycle suggested that Tufts Recycles! partner with an on-campus organization to promote recycling at Tufts, Tufts Recycles! intern Colleen Flanagan proposed Timmy Global Health, which has a local Tufts chapter.

“I am a part of both Tufts Recycles! and Timmy Global Health, so I could act as a bridge between both groups,” Flanagan, a junior, said. “It seemed like the obvious choice.” 

Timmy Global Health is an organization that works to provide healthcare to people around the world by appropriating medical teams to partner organizations, as well as funds health related projects in Nigeria, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and the United States.

Quirk said that Tufts Recycles! interns will collect the bottles and cans from the boxes and deposit them into the Campus Center’s Greenbean machine. 

“Interns will check the boxes on Friday to see whether students are using them,” she said. “If not, we might change the location of the boxes in the dorm.”

All proceeds earned from the boxes’ recyclable goods will then be donated directly to Timmy Global Health, and other students depositing containers in the Campus Center machine will also have the option to donate their earnings to the organization, Quirk said.

The Greenbean machine was originally located in the Commons area of the Campus Center, but Tufts Recycles! moved the machine against the back of the stairs for greater student accessibility, according to Quirk.

Quirk hopes to increase the number of cans deposited in the machine. 

“We want to average 3,000 to 4,000 cans per month, but in September we had 600 cans,” she said. “We can probably do much better.”

The machine collected a total of 2,646 cans in November, according to Quirk. The fraternities Zeta Beta Tau and Theta Delta Chi deposited 1,252 cans and 269 cans, respectively, and the general Tufts population deposited the remaining amount that month.

Quirk said she will meet with the Tufts Eco-Representatives next week to discuss the initial trial of the new box program. 

“I hope for it be an awesome program that will increase the machine’s usage and compete with [the Massachusetts Institute of Technology] and Brandeis [University],” she said.

According to Quirk, Brandeis installed a Greenbean machine three months ago and has deposited a total of 21,788 cans. MIT received its machine eight months ago and has deposited 76,179 cans, while Tufts students started using the machine nine months ago and have deposited 14,153 cans. 

As a reminder to machine users that they are helping save the environment by depositing their recyclable goods in the machine, they will now be able to see the total kilowatt-hours of energy saved from processing their cans in a landfill.

“What a lot of people don’t understand is that it costs a lot more to deal with waste than with recycling,” Flanagan said. “The boxes are another way to be philanthropic and save Tufts.”

Quirk said that depositing cans in either the machine or boxes is an easy way to engage in philanthropy on campus.

“Cans for money is a low cost, no cost way to support a charity,” she said. “Take an action to help that cause.”

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