Will Meeker from Facilities, along with their new partner from Waste Management, introduced a new method of recycling for the campus called single stream recycling on April 30, 2013 in the Academic Forum at 11 a.m.
Meeker, overseer of the core recycling program at the university, started his presentation by explaining to the audience what single-stream recycling exactly was.
“It is a process that no longer requires people to have multiple sorting containers for recycling,” Meeker said. “We are now using a single storage container that can include all the common materials for recycling, such as paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and metal.”
Meeker then explained the three-phase system that the recycling partnership hopes to achieve in the next several years, beginning by changing the attitude and culture on campus about recycling. Meeker said this is being accomplished through a partnership with Housing Residential Life and Dining Services, and their group, Students Promoting Acts of Recycling at Kutztown (SPARK). These groups work with incoming freshmen and do their best to convey how important recycling is for the campus.
The information is being conveyed by creating new visual aids and signs to inform students which containers are good for recycling, and which are trash.
The second phase will to apply the new culture to student life by making the single-stream containers more available on campus.
According to Meeker, Waste Management has already deployed 36 green, clearly marked dumpsters around campus, complete with a student-designed KU recycling logo. The partnership hopes that students will see the containers and register the idea that the campus is making recycling easier.
The third and final phase will be to integrate single-stream containers into individual buildings. In the future, rather than have separate bins for cans and bottles, paper and trash, there will only be trash and single-stream recycling bins. Meeker says that the containers will not be limited to places selling food, such as South Dining Hall, the Student Union Building and the Academic Forum. Bins are also being placed inside the residence halls, offices and classrooms. Meeker hopes that by getting this information out to students and staff that this method can change the future of recycling on campus.
Meeker explained that contamination is a problem that needs to be overcome because contaminated material cannot be recycled, and it becomes trash instead. Additionally, putting trash in the recycling units can cause them to fill quicker than expected. However, they hope that proper education, with help from Waste Management, will eventually minimize contamination.
“The custodians make a judgment call,” Meeker said. “They do their best, but in the end it also comes down to the campus community making proper decisions like throwing pizza in the garbage and the boxes in the recycling bins.”
Kim Rhode, director of Business and Services at KU, is also a member of the partnership.
“If we can get one point across, to foster a responsible duty for recycling, that it is worth it.” Rhode said. “It’s about changing our culture through awareness.”
The KU recycling program has come a long way since its beginning in the early 90s. At the time it had no partnerships with any other organizations. The program was labor-intensive because every type of material had to be sorted and packaged by hand. The biggest change perhaps is their new found ally in the Waste Management organization.
Brian Fuhrman, an employee of Waste Management, said, “the program will fail without the partnership. Both KU and Waste Management need each other in order for any progress on the campus to be made.”
At the end of the presentation, Meeker showed a short video from the Waste Management website. It contained statistics about recycling like how long it takes materials to degrade. Other information was a FAQ that contained questions asked from people located in central Pennsylvania.
“There will be a transformation,” Meeker says. “By the time the new freshmen become seniors there will be exposure all across the campus.”
Two more sessions on the new recycling program will be held on May 9 and 14 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. in AF 203.
For more information on the Waste Management Partnership, be sure to visit their websites, http://www.wm.com or http://www.thinkgreenforhome.com.
By Pat Zazzarino