To keep the CSUN recycling program running this year, the school will take $175,000 out of student fees, yet recycled items are expected to bring in $7,500 in revenue by the end of 2008.
More than 163,000 pounds of paper from campus was recycled in 2007. The recycling center’s slogan, “Recycle, it’s that easy,” is posted on the electric vehicles that roam around campus picking up everything from paper to old ink cartridges.
While recycling programs can be an expense to schools across the nation, those who run the college recycling programs feel that the daily effort is worth the end result.
Karyn Kaplan, the environmental resource and recycling manager at the University of Oregon, said college recycling programs help make changes on so many levels.
“We can’t afford not to do it,” she said.
She said that universities are like small cities and end up contributing to waste problems if they are not implementing recycling operations and teaching the community to reduce their impact on the environment.
Recycling is also an economic stimulus that provides jobs, she said, and universities benefit from that also.
“Campus recycling programs are more than just taking a bottle and putting it in a different garbage can,” said Kaplan. “First of all, it saves the university money in land filling costs and handling garbage as material. And second, it brings people to a consciousness of paying attention to what they’re consuming.”
Cyndi Signett, coordinator of CSUN’s recycling program, said that the program takes in a significant amount of recyclables with limited resources to do so.
“It makes a difference. We turn what people think is trash into a resource,” said Signett.
The bottom line, she said, is that recycling stops additional trees from being cut down and lessens the need for mining to make aluminum.
“Our population keeps growing and as we keep using more materials and as other countries develop more, they want more. We need to start looking at our trash as a resource stream,” she said.
In 1999, California statute AB 75 required large state facilities to have a waste management plan by 2000 and reduce their contributions to area landfills by 50 percent within five years.
Associated Students and CSUN’s administration started recycling on campus in 1991 with 10 soda can recycling bins and a pilot paper program in three campus buildings. Now close to 160 different recycling locations exist on campus. They have expanded the program and recycle cell phones and wooden pallets.
Currently, seven employees help manage the recycling process at CSUN, four of which are students.
“Our goal this year is that we want to be able to purchase additional bins for (more) beverage containers on campus,” said Signett.
CSUN’s Recycling Field Supervisor, Adrian De La Rosa, said that when new students arrive the effort to promote the program starts over again.
“Every year we have to get out there and bring awareness,” said De La Rosa.
Gabriella Gavotto, an 18-year-old kinesiology major, said that she doesn’t mind paying a small fee because recycling programs help students become aware of the issue.
She said she remembers recycling as a little girl when her family would take all the recyclables out of their regular trash cans and put them into recycle bins.
“We tried to reuse things as much as we could,” said Gavotto.
From this experience, she said she continues to take the time on campus to put her water bottles and newspapers in recycle bins, but wants to see more bins available on campus and advertising that explains where she can go to recycle certain items.
“I wish there were more signs, because it’s hard to distinguish between the trash cans,” she said.
Sabrina Sparlin, on the other hand, said if she is near a recycle bin she will throw it in, but otherwise she puts it in the nearest trash can.
She said she collects cans at home though and brings them to a recycling center once a month.
“You save the environment and get a little bit of cash,” said Sparlin.
The materials recycled on campus commonly come from greenery, construction and demolition debris, and paper.
“As much as we try to reduce our paper usage, somehow it’s still there. When you increase the amount of students, you increase everything,” said Signett.
College programs do make a huge difference and are taking recycling to a higher level, said Kaplan.
“By taking a piece of paper or any kind of object and putting it in a recycling bin and then remanufacturing that into a new product, you’re reducing the amount of energy it takes to make the product in the first place,” she said.