Recycling bins are prominent on the Washburn campus. But not all of the locations are being utilized by students.
The Facilities Services department expresses the need to recycle, which doesn’t always amount to simply putting something in the recycle bin.
The university’s recycle efforts are headed up by Washburn’s Facilities Services Department. Their June 2009 Recycle Update statistics are impressive. They collected 12,500 pounds of paper for recycling, 4,500 pounds of cardboard, 8,000 pounds of scrap metal and 550 pounds of plastic bottles for a total of 25,550 pounds of recycled material. That is up 3,160 pounds from five years ago.
Though the volume of recycled material is up, the percent has only grown .88 percent. Mike Jauken, grounds chief of Washburn’s Facility Services, said, “we can do better.”
He wants to remind everyone on campus that we can reduce the use of plastics by bringing durable drink containers from home. Even water bottles purchased on campus can be refilled and reused. If and when they do need to be disposed of, place them in the proper receptacle.
Plastic recycling doesn’t end there.
“People don’t realize that if they stuff any refuse inside the bottle it can’t be processed. Trash, food wrappers, even the peeled label inside the bottle contaminates it and it can’t be recycled,” said Jauken. “We lose a lot of recyclable material because of contamination.
“One of the worst things people can do is replacing their bottle cap before recycling. The water tight and pressure resistant bottles are so strong they can’t be compressed by the compactor.”
Paper, the leading recyclable, encompasses magazines, hardcover books, computer paper, newsprint and notebook paper.
“The biggest problem with paper is that they don’t want any plastic or steel in it like spiral bound notebooks,” said Jauken. “If you rip out the paper and remove the wire, that’s okay.”
The university goes through a lot of cardboard. Most everything is shipped in cardboard boxes. But they too can be contaminated.
“We once had a large Boy Scout group spend the night on campus. Well, they had pizza and thought they were doing the right thing placing all those boxes in the cardboard bin. When I saw all of them in the morning I thought, Oh Boy. We can’t do that,” Jauken said.
“They didn’t realize that anything with food residue—greasy pizza boxes in particular—can’t be recycled.”
Though the university does recycle bulk scrap metal, it does not recycle aluminum cans.
“Since venders have gone to plastic bottles, there just isn’t enough aluminum,” said Jauken. “Nor is there a demand for the little amount of glass we produce.”
As visitors to campus, student produced recyclables tend to be plastic bottles and small amounts of paper. The big producers are the university offices. “I want to say 90 percent of our paper comes out of offices,” said Jauken. He said that most of the staff has good recycling habits, but that there is one in particular that needs to improve, the student publications office, home of the Review.
On Nov. 11 in the student publications office, there were eight paper recycle containers that clearly listed paper, magazines, books, newspapers and envelopes as the approved recyclables. Seven of the eight were contaminated with food items or non-approved materials. That meant that what little paper had found its way into the receptacles was contaminated and doomed to the landfill.
Jauken felt that everyone should know the key points to improving Washburn’s recycle program. Know that we recycle paper, cardboard, plastic, and bulk metal. Place each in the proper container. Avoid contaminates—especially anything food related.