SCC Enactus students’ recycling project takes third place in national competition

Enactus Students Recycling Award
SCC students and Faculty Advisor Debbie Gaspard, far right, pose for a photo in St. Louis recently. Pictured are, from left: Courtney Jones, program manager for Enactus United States; Randy Ornstein, vice president of Walmart, Sam’s Club, Walmart International at Anheuser-Busch; Dustin Ideus of Lincoln; Brian Ems (mostly hidden in back) of Lincoln; Anh Trinh of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Nathan Klintworth of Seward; Marilyn Garcia of Los Angeles, Calif.; and Joe Metobo of Kisii, Kenya. Not pictured: Christian Molina of Hialeah, Fla., and Larry Perry of Gary, Ind.

Southeast Community College Enactus students turned an Anheuser-Busch recycling challenge into cash by capturing third place in a national competition.

The eight students and Debbie Gaspard, Business Division instructor and Enactus and Kappa Beta Delta faculty advisor, recently accepted their $2,000 award at the Enactus U.S. Expo in St. Louis.

Marilyn Garcia of Los Angeles, Calif.; Brian Ems of Lincoln; Anh Trinh of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Dustin Ideus of Lincoln; Nathan Klintworth of Seward; Larry Perry of Gary, Ind.; Joe Metobo of Kisii, Kenya; and Christian Molina of Hialeah, Fla., accompanied Gaspard and worked on the project for the past few months.

According to a press release by Anheuser-Busch, much of the beer served in bars and restaurants is in glass bottles. This year Anheuser-Busch wanted to know how more glass could be secured for recycling through its Better World Project Partnership with Enactus, a community of student, academic and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better more sustainable world.

“We were really excited about this award,” Gaspard said. “This was the first year Anheuser-Busch InBev reached out to Enactus teams as a project partner, and we were happy to be chosen as an initial grant winner.”

The initial grant award was $1,500. As one of three finalists, the SCC student group received an additional $2,000.

Through the partnership, Anheuser-Busch and Enactus mobilized nine teams of college students across seven U.S. states to explore and recommend new ways to approach glass recycling in bars and restaurants in their local communities. To be selected, teams submitted a comprehensive application outlining how they would advance a new approach to recycling at local restaurants and bars. The projects ranged from researching and piloting incentive-based recycling programs, local awareness campaigns and recycling competitions.

Gaspard explained SCC’s project.

We started by asking classmates working in restaurants and bars about their recycling practices,” she said. “Very few had something in place but were willing to start. We had employees at Risky’s, Old Chicago and Sunrise Country Manor in Milford on our team. Our plan was to go ‘door to door’ and ask if we could help set up or improve their recycling efforts. Home Depot on North 27th Street gave us a great deal on ‘slim jim’ bins, and a member of our team used his veterans’ discount to purchase lids.”

In February the students connected with WasteCap Nebraska, a statewide, member-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate waste in Nebraska.

“They were developing plans with businesses on an entire city block in the Haymarket,” Gaspard said. “Because they shared an alleyway for trash pickup, adding recycling bins to the alley would allow all of the businesses the same access without having to transport waste. WasteCap’s focus was compostable foods, so the A-B InBev focus on glass worked perfectly to divert recyclables from landfills.”

According to Recycle Across America®, more than 28 billion glass bottles and jars end up in landfills every year, enough to fill two Empire State Buildings every three weeks. Localizing the project helped the SCC students better understand recycling issues in a specific area of Lincoln.

We weighed and transported Risky’s bottles at least twice each week, disposing of the bottles at the city site near the Lancaster Event Center,” Gaspard said.

First place was awarded to Gulf Coast State College of Panama City, Fla. Second place went to Pittsburg State University in Kansas.

As the world celebrates Earth Day on Wednesday, Gaspard said her students will continue their efforts to encourage additional recycling.

“We plan to continue working with WasteCap to get Haymarket businesses on board,” she said. “Our next phase will be connecting nonprofits with WasteCap to utilize Zero Hero outdoor recycling stations at public gatherings like ‘Jazz in June’ and Juneteenth.”

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For more information contact:
Stu Osterthun
Administrative Director of Public Information and Marketing
402-323-3401
sosterthun@southeast.edu