This article was first published in The Viking News, January 28, 2004 (Volume 73, No. 1), a bi-weekly publication of the State University of New York, Westchester Community College.
By Taffy Lee Williams
One of the main topics on the agenda at the Faculty Senate Environmental Committee meeting on December 12, 2004, was widespread contamination of recyclables on campus. Contamination occurs if recyclable or non-recyclable items are tossed into the wrong containers.
For example, if a juice bottle is thrown into the paper recycling bin, the whole receptacle of paper is contaminated and everything becomes trash. Likewise if trash is thrown into the commingled (plastic, glass or aluminum) bins the commingled bin becomes contaminated.
Faculty Senate Environmental Committee Chair Sheldon Malev noted that there appears to be a high level of recyclable contamination on campus. "Right now it seems as if the students are failing to make any distinction between the different receptacles in disposing of their trash and beverage containers."
Malev noted that the existing bins may be replaced as they are not labeled properly. For example, "commingled" includes plastic, glass and aluminum cans. There should be one bin for commingles, one for paper and one for trash. One option includes affixing new labels to the existing bins, or simply replacing the bins.
It was generally agreed at the meeting that keeping students up to date, and "educated" on recycling matters is one of the biggest challenges WCC is facing. "Along with that is changing attitudes and habits," Malev said. "We don't want any garbage to wind up in the commingled containers and we don't want any recycles to end up in the garbage."
Faculty members discussed the problems in classrooms with recycling because recycle bins are located in the hallways, outside of the classrooms. Students throw all their trash, recycles and paper items in the classroom bins that are intended for trash only, and nothing gets recycled.
The Faculty Senate Environmental Committee is urging all faculty, students, staff and visitors on campus to please place paper recyclables, commingles (glass, plastics and aluminum cans) and trash in the proper bins on campus.
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