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Students create recycling bins from recyclable materials
Project part of course for international graduate students
Brenau University international graduate students Brian Bian, left, and Austin Chen hold recycling bins made of used cans and bottles during a presentation of sustainability projects Friday. - photo by Tom Reed

A Brenau University student project made entirely of used cans and bottles may soon be found on campuses across Hall County.

International graduate students created a recycling bin from recycled materials by binding cans into a colorful box-shape.

“This is eye-catching. People can understand immediately what it’s used for,” said Linda Barton, professor of marketing at Brenau.

Students presented the projects to a university panel Friday. The aim was to find solutions to real-world problems, and inspire people to live sustainably, meaning they can meet present needs but also ensure future generations will be able to meet their needs, too.

“These projects may have huge ripple effects throughout the Gainesville community,” said Iben Nielsen, graduate assistant at Brenau and a facilitator for the class.

The group that developed the recycling bin is working to pursue a patent for the project. The bin takes about four hours to make and requires about 200 bottles or cans, student Matilda Lu said. It is sealed with a layer of tape.

College of Business Dean William Lightfoot said there is already interest building for the bins, including offers to purchase one. The university plans to make a video instructional manual for local high schools and middle schools.

“We would like to see every bin in Hall County be one of these bins,” he said.

He said the students might also rely on viral advertising, such as YouTube, or apply for grants from major corporations to push the project even further.

Other student sustainability projects included a plan to collect shoes and repurpose them for unique-looking items, such as pencil holders or tissue boxes. Another group began a yard sale project, Nielsen said.

“The projects aren’t just environmental as people might think, they can also make money,” Nielsen said.

The eight-week-long class helped students develop their English skills, as many were from other countries, Lightfoot said.

“They also begin to think like a business person,” he said.

The recycling bin project will be continued next month, as the university pitches the idea to local schools.

Although some students will only remain in the U.S. for another several months, they said they hope their work will have long-lasting effects in the community.

“Hopefully this will change people’s habits and create a culture of sustainability,” Lu said during her presentation.

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