Gregory Jones | Staff Writer
This month marks the anniversary of APSU’s “new recycling effort.” In March 2010, blue indoor recycling containers were distributed in all buildings across campus to collect paper, plastic, aluminum and cardboard waste to reduce the university’s landfill waste and disposal costs and become more environmentally sound. The student-funded Sustainable Campus Fee was used to purchase the recycling bins.
Initially, student workers were hired to empty the recycle bins as an expansion of the original program operated by Housing and Residence Life. However, this practice was abandoned shortly and they transferred the recycling program to Facilities, who promptly contracted GCA Services Group.
GCA is paid $24,974.00 annually to collect waste around campus and discard it behind the Shasteen building. Bi-County Solid Waste was paid $67,034.42 during the 2009-10 fiscal year to collect all garbage and recyclables, and pays the university for recyclables based on the market value at that time.
The current recycling effort has failed to help APSU begin its commitment to conservation and become more environmentally friendly. This failure has been primarily caused by the inconsistent and inconvenient locations of the indoor receptacles. At the program’s inception, a map was created pinpointing the exact location of all recycle bins within the buildings, but this map has been ignored or forgotten.
Consequently, the bins regularly migrate throughout the buildings, and some have been stationed outside, posted in bathrooms in place of generic waste bins or have disappeared altogether. Every ill-placed bin is a blatant misuse of Sustainable Campus Fee funds. Here is a proposed, step-by-step solution to correct the recycling problem:
1. All misplaced recycle bins should be recovered and accounted for.
2. New indoor receptacles should be purchased to replace those lost and additional receptacles should be purchased to boost the original number of receptacles for all buildings.
3. New outdoor receptacles should be purchased to provide additional recycling opportunities.
4. All recycling receptacles should be distributed to allow for a 1-to-1 ratio with generic waste bins, or as near this ratio as possible.
5. Definite and maintained locations for each recycling bin should be selected on the basis of their prominence and efficiency to handle the anticipated volume of recycled materials.
6. An education and advertising plan would inform campus on how and where to recycle. All receptacles will be clearly marked for the appropriate recycling category.
The most important step in correcting the recycling problem will be to hold a staff position directly responsible for recycling and other environmental projects. I envision APSU creating a sustainability manager position, whose job will be to oversee all refuse on campus, not just recyclables, and all conservation efforts. Annual reports could be compiled to assess the university’s success in these projects and address deficiencies for targeting in the future.
In the fall 2010, the Students Organized to Advance Renewable Energy polled students about recycling on campus. An overwhelming 98 percent of students professed their interest in recycling, but admitted they do not recycle as much as they would like. The culprit? Location.
Students do not have time to search every room, hall and corner to find a recycling bin. Students may pass dozens of trash cans on their way from lunch to class and zero recycling bins. Prominent, consistent and clearly-marked locations will afford students a real opportunity to recycle, whether inside or out. TAS