EcoBods work to get curbside recycling at WU

The EcoBods are trying to make a difference on campus. They held a meeting with Washburn’s Facilities Services to figure out how to get these changes going as soon as possible. 

Mike Jauken, chief of groundskeeping services at Washburn University, visited with the group about Washburn’s current recycling program and how to improve it.

In January of this year, Shawnee County Solid Waste Department started its curbside recycling program, developed by the SCSWD and the Board of County Commissioners over many years. This program enables customers to throw all recyclable materials into one bin to be shipped off and separated somewhere else. The program, however, does not extend to Washburn University. 

Washburn’s Facilities Services is currently in charge of recycling and they separate plastic bottles, cardboard and paper and Shawnee County picks it up. Currently, they still have to separate the items, around campus there are various containers available for each one. In classrooms there are blue paper recycle cans next to each entrance, and stationed around campus are Pepsi-shaped bottle bins for plastic bottles. Recently, the Memorial Union installed recycle bins on the first and second floors. All of this is taken to one place on campus, behind Henderson Learning Resources Center, in the parking lot.

“Out here we have an 8 cubic yard dumpster for cardboard only then a big 8 cubic yard dumpster for paper only,” said Jauken. “What we can recycle in it will be anything from magazine, to computer paper, newspaper, even hard cover books.” 

The EcoBods want to make it even easier for students to recycle and they think that by having the SCSWD’s program extended to Washburn’s campus, will help students recycle more. Also, the program includes more than just paper, plastic and cardboard. In addition to these three items, the new machine Shawnee County owns can separate aluminum cans, glass, tin cans, aluminum foil and various paper products including phone books. If they can successfully get Shawnee County to cooperate, students will be able to recycle all of the above. 

“If we somehow were able to use the [SCSWD’s] system we could recycle so much more,” said Olivia Marshall, a member of the EcoBods. “That is just something that we’re really missing. I don’t feel like students really recycle paper either.”

Washburn used to recycle aluminum cans but Jauken explained that now most all of the vending machines on campus sell plastic bottles, so they switched over. Marshall pointed out that many students have cans and glass bottles that end up in the trash and that could otherwise be recycled.

“On campus people have a lot of cans and they keep throwing them in with the bottles and people have plastic bottles and tubs from laundry detergent and other things, that are just being thrown away,” said Marshall.

EcoBods think that if their plan works, more students will participate in recycling.

“The fact that you have a [recycle bin] that you are going to end up giving to Shawnee County, why couldn’t we have a recycling trashcan everywhere we have a trash can,” said Kellis Bayless, EcoBods faculty adviser. “Instead of saying here’s one for plastic bottles and here’s a little blue one for paper. If I am a student and there’s a whole list of things, and it didn’t matter what was in it, it would make it much simpler if it was as simple as possible.”

The EcoBods went on to ask Jauken if he thought Shawnee County would work with facilities services to include Washburn University in their new curbside recycling.

“I can’t see where that would be a problem,” said Jauken. “We would still like to keep our cardboard separate as much as possible. I could see, possibly where we could use our recycling cans we have now and get it to where they will take more different items. I could see that happening, especially like here at the LLC. They would recycle quite a bit.”

For more information on SCSWD’s curbside recycling program, visit this website,

The EcoBods have their own Facebook page, To join the EcoBods, contact professor Kellis Bayless to find out when their next meeting will be held.