Staff Couple Set the Standard for Campus Recycling Efforts

Retiring Staffers Hope Decade of Work Inspires Others in Yearly Recyclemania Competition

If UT Dallas has a mascot for recycling, it would be the husband-and-wife staff team of Leroy and Jo An White, who have worked year in and out to collect paper, plastic, cardboard, aluminum and ink jet cartridges from offices in most buildings on campus.

Leroy White Joann White
Leroy White Jo An White

“They are nonstop workers, picking up shredded paper and collecting paper, plastics and aluminum,” said Bron Clayton, building services supervisor and recycling coordinator. “And they always do it with a smile. They’re like our recycle messengers.”

Together, the Whites have given UT Dallas a decade of service in recycling. Despite personal health concerns in recent years, their cheerful attitudes have been well-known to those who have seen them push carts through buildings to collect recyclables from office bins.

“Paper is money. Aluminum cans are money,” Leroy White said. “If you look on the side of the recycle box, anything there shouldn’t go anywhere else.”

“You also need to think about what it’s doing to the planet,” Jo An White added. “Sometimes we get more paper out of the trash than the recycle bin.”

The Whites are retiring at the end of February, but they hope their commitment to green living will continue as UT Dallas participates in RecycleMania 2013, the North American college recycling competition that runs Feb. 1-March 29.

Recyclemania logo

Recyclable Items 

Paper – Copier papers, envelopes, printer paper, letterhead, discarded mail, telephone books, postcards, paperboard (cereal boxes or chipboard) magazines, and catalogs. Shredded paper can also be recycled if it is properly bagged and closed.

Aluminum Cans & Plastics Bottles –  These can be deposited in special recycling boxes and containers located throughout campus.

Cardboard – Cardboard should be flattened and placed near any community recycling station.

Ink Jet and Toner Cartridges – The Staff Council has recycling stations around campus. The recycled cartridges help fund staff scholarships.

During RecycleMania, competing colleges and universities track and report online the weight of their recycling and trash throughout the eight-week contest. UT Dallas will compete in four categories: paper, cardboard, aluminum and compost.

Last year, more than 6 million students and staff at 605 colleges in North America collected 94.4 million pounds of recycling and composting.

An electronics category added in 2012 encouraged students to collect old computers, cell phones, printers, cartridges, TVs, stereos and consumer electronic batteries.

Students can carry recycling from their rooms to the recycling compactor bins located behind Residence Halls North and South.

“Anything we keep out of a landfill is a resource for another day,” said Thea Junt, energy conservation and sustainability manager. “Aluminum is infinitely recyclable. Paper can be recycled 12 times before the fiber breaks down. Land is precious, and landfills are ugly.”

Junt, who says she’s been known to pull an aluminum can out of someone’s trash for recycling, said she wants to educate and empower the UT Dallas community on all things green. That includes providing the tools and signage that departments, offices and student housing might need to begin recycling.

The Whites would be proud of such campus efforts to be green, Clayton said, even though they’ll be hard to replace. The couple have regularly filled up to 40 bins with recyclable material each week.

“If it’s a recyclable item, they’ve touched it,” Clayton said. “They are so patient, they spend hours sorting plastics from aluminum and paper. And they give such good customer service. We’re not going to find anyone as exceptional or as loyal as they are.”

For information on how to recycle or to request a bin or a pickup, call 972-883-2153 or email [email protected].

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].