Jan. 23, 2023 – Valparaiso, Indiana – Valparaiso University has signed its second year-long agreement with the Porter County Recycling and Waste Reduction District to work together towards reducing the amount of plastic waste being generated in the community. Rachel Painter ’25 and Tyler Kuss ’25, two waste reduction interns at the University’s office of sustainability, will work with the district to encourage greener, less wasteful practices in local businesses, schools and restaurants.

Painter, a digital media arts major, and Kuss, an integrated business and engineering major, identified steps to reduce waste in an organization through a plastic waste audit on Valpo’s campus. The result was over 50 actionable steps that could not only reduce waste, but save the University money, including the simple act of using fewer garbage bags. 

“When you see a trash bag, you really don’t think that much about it,” Kuss said. “We saved a significant amount of money just by having bins emptied every other day instead of daily. Twenty-cents a bag doesn’t seem like much, but, when you have almost 700 cans on campus being emptied every day, it adds up.” 

Painter and Kuss, along with the Porter County Recycling and Waste Reduction District, are now working towards implementing many of those changes across the county. They are connecting with local schools, restaurants and businesses to conduct further waste assessments and propose steps those organizations can take to help create a more sustainable community. 

“Working with Tyler and Rachel has been phenomenal; they’re a great crew. Valpo is really fortunate to have them,” said Keri Marrs-Barron, executive director of the Porter County Recycling and Waste Reduction District. “This project is making changes and connecting people in Porter County.” 

“I’m very honored to be working with them,” Painter said. “The administration has been very nice with helping us while we assist with their initiatives.”

Participating businesses, schools and restaurants will have the right to use a special logo identifying them as a green organization. Both organizations and individuals interested in assessing their own plastic waste habits can find more information at tinyurl.com/VUplastic