Joliet Junior College won second place in the nation and $15,000 in the PepsiCo Campus Recycling Challenge for recycling a total of 36,130 beverage containers from October 2014 to March 2015 at the school’s Dream Machine, equaling 1,974 pounds. Students, staff and faculty celebrated the accomplishment with representatives from PepsiCo during a recognition ceremony on Wednesday, May 6 on JJC’s Main Campus.
JJC will use the $15,000 for an on-campus recycling event during the school’s Welcome Week in August 2015 and other student sustainable initiatives. According to JJC Sustainability Coordinator Maria Anna Rafac, the event will kick off the new school year and encourage as many students as possible to recycle and use the Dream Machine.
JJC’s second place win comes after receiving first place during the 2013-2014 school year. Although no prizes were awarded last year, JJC outranked the second place college by 700 units recycled. Since JJC recycled so many cans last year, Pepsico installed a second Dream Machine at the college, making JJC the only college in the nation with two Dream Machines.
This year’s challenge was a little more difficult: colleges were asked to recycle more than they did last year, and their success was measured in percentage points over last year’s amount. The school with the highest percentage would win the competition. This meant that JJC students, staff and faculty had to up their game, especially since JJC was so high in the rankings last year. In the end, JJC recycled 649 percent more beverage containers than they did last year, bringing them only three percentage points below this year’s first place school.
A lot of the recycling fell into the hands of JJC’s student group, Students for a Sustainable Future, whose members gathered and recycled 13,000 units just in the last month of the competition alone. Other contributors included other student groups such as Student Government, the JJC custodial staff, and any student, staff member or community member who used the Dream Machine this past year.
Eric Wilhelmi, president of Students for a Sustainable Future, said he would never forget the last day of the competition.
“We went around neighborhoods, knocking on doors, asking for people’s cans, bottles, things that they would donate to us. By the end of the experience, we managed to pull together another 600 units just on that last day,” Wilhelmi said. “Considering the volume we did, I am incredibly proud of myself, my friends, our group, and most importantly, our school.”
“One of the main goals of the Students for a Sustainable Future is to educate our student body and to change what’s happening on our campus and in our community. The students have done such a great job and put in so much work this year,” Rafac added.
Recycling at the Dream Machine supports two of the college’s goals – expanding the use of sustainable methods at the college and preparing students for careers that require an understanding of sustainability.
“The college is committed to this holistic concept of sustainability, and the Pepsi Dream Machine allows us to demonstrate that everyday here at the college,” JJC President Dr. Deb Daniels said.
For more information about sustainability at JJC, visit http://www.jjc.edu/about/committees/sustainable-campus/Pages/default.aspx. For more information about the Dream Machine, visit https://www.pepsicorecycling.com.