Recycling sees success

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

The campus recycling program is “actually ahead of schedule,” student government organizers said, reporting that more than 100,000 pounds of paper have been collected since the program’s start in mid-June.

Now, their main focus is keeping students involved and keeping contaminants out of the bins.

“If we can really integrate it into people’s lives, then it’ll be successful,” said Patrick Reimherr, director of the Associated Students of the University of Utah Recycling and Sustainability Board. ASUU is working with U administrators to educate students and market the new program.

Reimherr said as more pounds of recyclable paper are collected, more money will be returned to the school. For every ton of “mixed paper” collected, $64 will be returned and for every ton of “office pack” — typical white paper usually found in an office — $140 will be returned.

“If there is high participation, the amount of money seen back could very much pay back the money to sustain the program, and there could be excess,” Reimherr said.

As of Aug. 14, more than 101,000 pounds of office pack and mixed paper were collected to be recycled. During that specific week, more than 11,000 pounds of paper were collected. This number is down from the 13,400 pounds collected the week before, which marked the end of the summer term, but numbers have been increasing since the program’s start June 12. Since then, the total pounds of paper collected has increased by more than 97,000 pounds.

More than 5,500 personal bins, 1,700 classroom bins and 400 curbside bins have been distributed to various locations throughout campus, including every Residence Hall room, organizers said. Each bin is labeled, listing items that are acceptable and items that are contaminants.

“If there is one message to put across to students, it’s not to contaminate the bins,” Reimherr said.

If food items or non-specified items are put in the bins, it risks contaminating the whole truckload of items, making it so none of the items can be recycled, he said. Since classes started Monday, Reimherr said most office bins that he has seen have contained the right materials, but he has seen contamination in bins near campus dining areas, something that he said is “worrisome.”

Cardboard recycling numbers have also gone up since that program’s start in July, with more than 25,000 total pounds of cardboard recycled as of Aug. 14. Although the cardboard recycling program is not yet in full swing, Reimherr said they hope to have the program at full measure by the spring semester, and they now are waiting for a machineto compact the cardboard so it can be recycled.

Currently, there are large dumpsters for cardboard pick-up outside locations such as Orson Spencer Hall, the University Bookstore and Rice-Eccles Stadium.

ASUU will host a number of events throughout the year to increase student awareness of the recycling program. This fall there will be a “green day” to market recycling and an ASUU farmer’s market featuring sustainable products from local farmers and eco-safe items. During Spring Semester, the U will battle Utah State and Brigham Young University in a four-month recycling competition called “Recycle Mania.”

Although formerly called the recycling board, ASUU has expanded the board’s name to the Recycling and Sustainability Board, to take into account other efforts to make the campus more environmentally sound.

“We wanted to make sure to include all aspects of sustainability on campus, and recycling was a good step,” said ASUU President Spencer Pearson.

Although Reimherr said the main focus of the board will still be recycling, it is also looking into other sustainable issues, such as the feasibility of replacing lights on campus with more energy-efficient bulbs.

Pearson said ASUU is working with the newly-created Office of Sustainability and other groups such as Sustainable Environments and Ecological Design to try to “link green organizations together” and offer student government resources and coordination efforts.

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