Myth Busted: Comingling Ups Campus Recycling
What really happens when an aluminum can and a draft of a term paper end up in the same recycling bin? A student asked the Administration, using the Suggestions & Ideas form, "I was just wondering, because I have heard that the campus does not really recycle and that the bins that are placed through out campus are just for show, and everything just gets mixed together in the end."
"Not true!" says Tom Macchi, Associate Vice President for Facilities and Capital Planning. "We recycle more goods now than we did a year ago as our new comingle program—where paper, plastic and aluminum waste goes in the same trash bag—has allowed us to handle and process recycled goods in a highly efficient manner. We are rolling out an enhanced recycling program this year, so I fully expect to increase the yield to even greater tonnage as we divert our waste stream away from the landfill and into recycling processing."
"As part of efforts to go green," notes Jaymie Bowles of Physical Plant, "Arcadia University continues to revamp its recycling program all over campus. We have gone with all clear bags on campus to help facilitate more recycling, as a huge amount of recyclable materials continue to be thrown in general trash cans, not in the blue recycling bins. We have done a thorough inventory of all bins on campus and have redistributed bins to areas where we feel they would yield the most materials. We have educated our employees on the ways to dispose of the materials. It would be a great benefit if each department became familiar with housekeepers in their area and established a friendly relationship. It will serve as a network should any questions or concerns arrive about the program.
"As many of you now know, we are commingling on campus, so we are no longer required to separate cans, bottles, paper and plastic materials. Therefore you can put any recyclable materials in any blue bins you see. Lids on all of the containers also have been removed to yield more material. We found that with the lids on, they tended to not generate as much recycled materials because people put only bottles into the bottle bins, paper in the paper containers etc. We will be placing additional signage on the bins and in the areas we designate as ‘recycle areas.'
"However," Bowles continues, "there are still some misconceptions about the way in which materials are recycled on campus. The process is not very complex. The trash is pulled from each office and space and emptied into a recycling bin or a trash bin. The bags are then brought outside and left on the curb. The grounds department makes rounds of campus every morning and puts the bags on the truck. Once the trash is all collected, it is brought to the dumpsters at the grounds shop where the bags are separated into the recycling dumpster and the trash dumpster. The dumpsters are then emptied as needed. So although the bags all end up in the same truck in the same pile, they are in fact separated once they get to the grounds shop.
"The current system allows for ultimate recycling because of the clear bags. Although, we do still collect some trash in the recycle bins, we are allowed a 5 percent contamination rate, and we are still very much below that threshold. Mike Saloma (grounds manager) has noted that we have drastically increased our yields. This is evident from the quantity of dumpster pulls that we have. We were once pulling cans every six weeks for recycling, we now have an on-call schedule and are calling for empties every other week. Also, a conservative estimate/ analysis indicate that we are diverting an extremely high percentage of our waste stream in over 33 separate categories of recyclable materials.
"Facilities student workers tried to distribute bins and cans to every office area and speak with the people working in those areas. But if your office needs further assistance or you feel that the program in your area needs to be changed, please don't hesitate to contact the Facilities Department at extension 2992 and we will do our best to accommodate you," Bowles adds. "We thank you all for your ongoing support and look forward to helping Arcadia become as GREEN as can be with our new program!"