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Off-campus recycling machine in the works

Off-campus lawns and porches littered with empty aluminum cans could become a distant memory.

Undergraduate Student Government members are working with the Office of Student Life and other organizations on campus to purchase a reverse vending machine, which will pay students for their empty aluminum cans.

A reverse vending machine works opposite of a traditional vending machine. The user puts in empty aluminum cans and receives money in exchange.

Bradley Pyle, USG vice president and a fourth-year in business, said USG is reaching out to student organizations and OSU departments with an interest in sustainability.

To bring the reverse vending machine to OSU, USG will need to raise $30,000-$35,000, said Micah Kamrass, USG president and a fourth-year in political science and economics.

“We’ll take anyone’s money at this point,” Pyle said. “We think that one way or another, we’ll be able to find the funding.”

Kamrass said they were still shopping around for a company to buy the machine from.

The machine will be in the off-campus area, though a spot has not yet been determined.

“We’ve looked at a lot of places that campus and community partners own,” Pyle said, “The size of the machine is about the size of a parking spot, if not less.”

Pyle said the only obstacles remaining are securing money to purchase the machine and finding a site. He said the vendor is confident the machine can be expediently transported to campus once payment is made.

USG is in talks with the Office of Student Life to coordinate ownership and maintenance of the machine. Once the machine is purchased, Student Life will take over and handle maintenance, Kamrass said.

A scrap metal company will empty the aluminum from the machine, Kamrass said. Because of its scrap value, only aluminum will be collected.

USG met with Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president for Student Life. Kamrass said Adams-Gaston showed enthusiasm for the project, though she did not immediately return a request for comment.

Kamrass said the university had positive response to the idea.

“We’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from people across the campus. As soon as we find the money and the location, I think we’ll be set to put it in motion,” Kamrass said.

Kamrass identified the reverse vending machine as one of his five goals for USG in his state of the university address last month.

The idea of bringing the machine to campus was credited to Brett Chessin, a 2010 OSU graduate in political science and international studies, and campaign manager for Kamrass and Pyle. The initiative became one of their campaign promises last year.

Revenue the aluminum sale generates will be used to pay for payouts to users, utilities and maintenance. Kamrass said it was important that the machine be financially self-sustaining and that excess money should be put to good use.

Laura Christobek, USG chief of staff and a fourth-year in mechanical engineering, said she likes the idea of bringing the reverse vending machine to campus.

“I think it would bring together a lot of the people that have concerns about recycling off-campus, and this would be really a step to show that Ohio State off-campus students are really responsible and want to be sustainable.”


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