Penn State Behrend Places Fourth in PepsiCo Campus Recycling Challenge

Pepsi Dream Machine
Friday, May 13, 2016

Students at Penn State Behrend have helped the school win $1,000 for placing fourth out of more than 65 schools competing in the PepsiCo 2016 Campus Recycling Challenge, with the money going toward the Student Government Association (SGA) Leadership Award.

The recycling challenge took place from January 19 to April 15, 2016 this year. The winning schools are determined by having the largest percentage increase in recyclables from the previous year. Since last year, Behrend has increased the amount of recyclables collected by 34 percent.

“We work really hard to boost those numbers. The real reason we were so successful is because we paired with the SGA this year to promote it,” Michael Lindner, director of Housing and Food Services at Penn State Behrend, says. “For programs like this to be successful, we have to be engaging with our students. The SGA put forth a lot of hard work to get their peers to buy into the program.”

All competing colleges and universities must have a PepsiCo Dream Machine, a kiosk that rewards students each time they recycle a bottle or can. Penn State Behrend has two Dream Machines, one in Bruno’s Cafe and another outside of Tigress Hall.

Students register a personal 10-digit code as their username that’s entered into the kiosk every time they recycle a bottle or can, and that’s how their points are tracked for rewards.

“Once we finished the competition and got the money that’s going toward the scholarship, the student feedback has been great. The [students] are excited and want to know how they can do more things like this in the future,” Doug Harner, SGA secretary, says.

The SGA Leadership Award recognizes a student who demonstrates great character and is strongly involved on campus, Harner says.  As far as redeeming points goes, students can receive rewards to various restaurants or stores for health and beauty products, music, books and videos, retail, and service stores.

Alternatively, students can also choose to donate their reward points to act as a monetary donation for The Nature Conservancy, a program PepsiCo is in partnership with to protect nature and clean drinking water.

“[The Dream Machine kiosks] definitely brings awareness to recycling and the efforts we’re willing to put forth in our partnership with PepsiCo. People find them interesting and want to try them,” Lindner says. “It’s a good promotion for recycling and our effort to make students more cognizant.

Harner says that for future recycling challenges, he would like to get Penn State Behrend involved as early as they can, get more student organizations involved, and add more incentives.

Penn State Behrend is one of four Penn State campuses with the Dream Machine kiosks, with Penn State Altoona, Penn State Berks and Penn State Harrisburg being the other three. 

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