Pictured are 3,250 boxes that have been collected, tallied and stored at The Ridges over the summer. The boxes will be used to break the world record for the world’s largest cardboard castle. Thousands more boxes are expected to be collected during move-in weekend.

Pictured are 3,250 boxes that have been collected, tallied and stored at The Ridges over the summer. The boxes will be used to break the world record for the world’s largest cardboard castle. Thousands more boxes will be collected this weekend.

Photographer: Andrew Ladd/Ohio University

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OHIO looks to break world record with cardboard castle

15,000 cardboard boxes needed for November event

Cardboard forts might be fun for some, but at Ohio University, going big by creating a cardboard castle in the name of recycling is definitely better.

This year, OHIO Recycling & Refuse with the help of Events, Campus Recreation and a handful of passionate community members, are hoping to prove bigger is indeed better by collecting 15,000 cardboard boxes to create the world’s biggest cardboard castle ever made — and all Bobcats are asked to help by turning in their boxes during move-in.

“In previous years, we broke down the boxes and took them to the Athens-Hocking Recycling Center and they went into the recycling stream right away,” said OHIO Refuse & Recycling Manager Andrew Ladd. “This year, Residence Life, Campus Recycling staff and community volunteers are breaking down the boxes for reuse. Ohio University will use them to break the current world record of 12,301. We’re aiming for 15,000 boxes, and move-in boxes will be part of this.”

The current world record for any cardboard structure constructed is held by Youth Making a Difference in Salt Lake City, Utah, which built the world’s largest cardboard fort in April, and Ladd is challenging Bobcats to break that record this November and make OHIO number one.

From Nov. 7 to 9, thousands of boxes in the Ping Center will be crafted and engineered into a cardboard castle, with the help of a blueprint and an estimated 400 volunteers needed to make it happen.

“It will be built Friday evening, and it needs to be completely torn down, cleaned up and recycled by Monday morning, so it’s really a 54 hour project to get this done and documented,” Ladd said. "The purpose of the event is not just to break a record, but to educate about OHIO'S ongoing recycling efforts and our steps towards becoming a Zero Waste University. Also, OHIO Bobcats are awesome and reusing things is creative and fun."

Last year, the recovery rate for move-in related cardboard was 95 percent, which surpassed expectations, he said. This year’s record-breaking enrollment number is expected to create additional cardboard, so collecting 15,000 boxes is definitely possible, Ladd added.

Boxes can be dropped off in appropriately marked cardboard bins located across campus. For additional information, visit www.ohio.edu/facilities/recycle/ or call 740-593-0231.

New recycling changes

Students returning to campus this fall will see a newer, more streamlined version of recycling in offices, academic buildings, and laboratories, thanks to an ongoing partnership between OHIO and the Athens-Hocking Recycling Center, which is moving closer to creating a mixed-stream recycling system that should increase the overall rate of recycling.

“OHIO has been working closely with the Athens-Hocking Recycling Center to move the system towards mixed-stream recycling,” said Ladd, meaning all recyclables are collected in one bin and sorted at the recycling center rather than by University staff or students. “The recycling center in Chauncey has built what they’re calling a mini-Materials Recovery Facility. It’s a small conveyor belt that is strategically placed near various bins and bailers so workers can sort recyclables from the conveyor belt into the appropriate places.”

Although the process is labor-intensive, the recycling center can now receive limited amounts of unsorted recyclables from the community, including Ohio University. “We can’t switch everyone over to mixed-stream recycling immediately because we don’t want to inundate the Athens-Hocking Recycling Center,” said Ladd. “We want to keep our good partnership there and not give them more than they have the capacity to process.”

A three-tiered change to campus recycling has been implemented this year in response to the change, including the following:  

  • Administrative offices and academic laboratories and classrooms: These areas are mixed-stream recycling, meaning all recyclables can go into the same bin unsorted. All bottles, cans, plastics, and papers can go into one bin and will be sorted at the recycling center in Chauncey.
  • Academic buildings: Select buildings have been converted to accept mixed-stream recycling, including Baker, Alden and Chubb. Compost will continue being collected at West 82 in Baker University Center, and additional composting stations will be added throughout the building. The hallways and public areas in a majority of academic buildings also are now dual-stream, meaning everything is divided into two categories: paper and beverage containers. Prior to the change, there were seven bins for recyclables.
  • Residence halls: All residence halls will remain source-separated, meaning recyclables are separated by the person creating the waste and divided into categories of white and color paper, newspaper, magazines, glass, steel, aluminum, plastic and cardboard. Another new change is that all glass can be placed in one bin, a change from spring semester when green glass had its own category, brown and clear glass were together, and blue was not recyclable.


Ohio University is hoping to create the world's biggest cardboard castle, even bigger than the cardboard fort featured in this video, which was built by Youth Making a Difference in Salt Lake City, Utah, in April.