College “pays forward” PepsiCo Recycling prize with cotton bags

Penn State Berks is ?paying forward? the grand prize of $5,000 received as part of the PepsiCo Campus Recycling Challenge, by investing that money in 100% cotton, reusable bags, which will be distributed to students during Move-in Day on August 21, 2015. This is part of the college?s ongoing sustainability efforts.

In April 2015, Penn State Berks finished in third place in the nationwide PepsiCo Campus Recycling Challenge, earning a grand prize of $5,000 and solidifying the school as a national recycling champion. The PepsiCo Campus Recycling Challenge used the spirit of competition to encourage participating colleges and universities to increase recycling rates on campus. Participating schools have interactive PepsiCo Recycling Dream Machine kiosks on campus for a convenient and rewarding way to recycle bottles and cans on the go.

?Housing and Food Services has an ongoing commitment to incorporating sustainable initiatives as part of our operating guidelines. Penn State Berks was the third place winner in the PepsiCo Recycling Challenge, winning $5,000. While the suggested prize was free soft drinks during finals week, we felt that it was important to use the funds to further support sustainability at Berks, with the end result being the BYOB: Bring Your Own Bag. This 100% cotton, reusable bag is being provided to our students for their take-out purchases, instead of using the traditional plastic disposable bags,? explains Kathy Ashby, Director of Housing and Food Services at Penn State Berks.

?Disposable plastic bags pose unique problems, even when disposed of properly. They are very lightweight, and can be easily carried by the wind, escaping from trash containers, recycling bins, and landfills. They also pose a significant risk to wildlife when they find their way into the environment. Our local solution is to eliminate plastic take-out bags and have students use their BYOB bag.?

The challenge is a component of PepsiCo Recycling?s innovative programs that help schools raise awareness of the importance of recycling while making it easy and fun for students to recycle more often. As an increased incentive to recycle regularly, students can receive rewards points that can be redeemed for prizes, including local entertainment and dining options, for every bottle or can they recycle through a Dream Machine.

The 2014-2015 school year competition tracked recycling rates in Dream Machines to determine which school showed the largest percentage increase in the recycling rate between the previous and current academic year. Schools followed their progress through a real-time leaderboard hosted on, which provided daily tracking of recycling rates.

?Placing third in the Campus Recycling Challenge is a testament to our school and I?m proud of our students and employees for leading the way in recycling,? said Ashby. ?Our partnership with PepsiCo Recycling has had a tremendous impact and helped motivate students to recycle on campus and think about their impact on the environment.?

The PepsiCo Recycling program currently includes more than 65 participating colleges and universities in 24 states. To date, these colleges have collected 2.6 million total beverage containers.