Recycling program off to rocky start

By By Parker Williams

By Parker Williams

As part of the new recycling program, U administrators pledged to have bins in every classroom and office on campus by June 1.

A month and a half later, 400 bins have been placed — but nearly 200 remain shelved in custodial closets.

Plant Operations employee and recycling advocate Will Chatwin said the program has had a slow start because the current recycling programs across campus must first come together in order for the administration’s efforts to succeed.

Places such as the Residence Halls, the Union, Rice-Eccles Stadium and the University Bookstore are not in the jurisdiction of University Plant Operations, which manages the new program.

These areas run independently and are still under contract with other waste management companies and will have to renegotiate their contracts before participating in the program.

“The bins are not in all buildings yet because some parts of campus are not participating in the program as it is set up right now,” said Chatwin. “Negotiations must be undertaken with each entity to come to an agreement about how the system will be operated.”

Another challenge facing the program is manpower.

The people who distribute and upkeep the bins are still expected to accomplish their other job duties, said Chatwin.

“There are thousands of new bins on campus; they will not all find their spots instantaneously,” said Chatwin. “It takes time for the initial campus receiving of the semi-trailer, staging and delivery to each building, applying labels and placing in designated locations.”

This may hinder the program’s ability to succeed in the future.

Next spring, the U will participate in “Recycle Mania,” a recycling competition with universities from around the country. The U’s fledgling recycling program may prove to be a lightweight in the competition.

Lack of awareness has also become a challenge for the new program.

Nicholas Holland, junior in political science and philosophy, said he has seen the new recycling bins on campus, but wasn’t aware of a new recycling program.

“If we could increase awareness or desire to recycle, maybe we’d see an impact,” Holland said.

Holland, who recently completed an internship with the U.S. House of Representatives, said he believes it will take 10 years for the U to reach the same success level as programs in other states.

Chatwin, too, hopes the program will improve in the future.

“There is a basic system in place now,” Chatwin said. “The system and the users will evolve together.”

Communication professor Glen Feighery formerly taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which, according to Feighery, is comparable to the U in physical size and student body.

“At UNC, you literally could not walk 100 yards without encountering a set of three bins — mixed paper, bottles and trash,” Feighery said. “That made recycling convenient, which it has to be or people won’t do it.”

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