You probably have passed by them and subconsciously noticed them and moved on, not giving them a second thought. There are 37 recycling bins located around the campus and 15 bins around housing that students seldom look at twice.
The recycling program is a certified community service program that is often unappreciated and overlooked by students but is run by dedicated, hard-working people.
Recycling Coordinator Cindy Signett pioneered the recycling program, and said that she got involved in recycling because she wanted to make a difference.
Adrian De La Rosa, recycling field supervisor, said the program has become one of the best in California and credits Signett’s dedication and hard work for getting different people to work together and in doing so making the recycling program more efficient.
During this last fiscal year, the program has collected a total of 325,427 pounds of recyclable products like mixed office paper, pallets, cardboard boxes, bottles and cans, along with 18 cell phones, 321 inkjets, and 1,210 laser toner cartridges.
Signett said that the “recyclables go to various vendors who buy our recyclables. We are fortunate that all of our vendors transport our recyclables at no cost except for our cardboard, which is hauled by an independent hauler in 40 yard bins to our cardboard recycler.”
Signett said the program’s “funding comes from Associated Students as well as any revenue generated by the sale of the recyclables.
“Our program generates approximately $8,500 in revenue, depending on market value, which is used to offset our operating costs,” Signett said.
In addition to collecting and sorting through the recyclables, the program is involved in promoting awareness and waste prevention.
During the welcome back picnic earlier this semester, the recycling program gave away more than 4,200 coffee mugs in an effort to prevent the use of paper cups. As an incentive to prevent waste, the coffee mugs can be taken to various campus locations like the Freudian Sip and students will get 10 cents off their beverage purchase.
Signett said that giving away the mugs was a way of putting into practice what they preach and giving back to the student what they pay in A.S. fees.
While they usually work behind the scenes and go unnoticed, the recycling program is also involved in events like Big Show and commencement.
During commencement alone, the recycling program collected 700 pounds of plastic bottles, De La Rosa said.
The program also collects campus construction and demolition debris, as well as green waste, such as grass, leaves and tree branches.
For a program that oversees quite a large operation, Signett said that this semester she has a total of six students on staff and added that volunteers are always welcomed.
“Please, we need volunteers. Even if it is just for an hour, every little bit helps,” De La Rosa said.
Vanessa Benitez, education assistant and former collections assistant, said she is currently working on putting together a street team and is also working with A.S. to possibly make the street team a campus club.
Benitez said she has 110 signups, but that out of those, only 10 percent will actually show up.
“You do get to do a lot of fun stuff and you meet cool people,” Benitez said. She explained that there are two sides to the recycling program: collections and awareness.
Benitez said that while some students might not be interested in the collection aspect of the program, they can help in the awareness side by volunteering to work the booths or passing out goodie bags and helping to educate people about recycling.
Beyond recycling, the program works on awareness and encouraging involvement. Signett said that for students to be more inclined to recycle, the process “has to be convenient.” She said that people are not going to hold on to their bottles until they find a recycling bin.
Both Signett and De La Rosa would like to add 10 more bins to the campus, and both agree that it will take time and money to make that happen.
Signett said that when shopping for recycling bins, they look for something that looks good and is durable.
She explained that there are different criteria that they look at. For example, each bin should have a trash can next to it, and service availability and foot patterns need to be considered as well.
Another problem that the program deals with is stealing. De La Rosa and Signett said that people come on campus and break into their recycling bins and steal their recyclables. They explained that while some of those people are just people that are down on their luck and maybe cannot work, there are others who are just looking to make a quick buck. For this reason, they do not disclose the location of their recycling center.
“People don’t know that we are here,” Signett said. “It’s very well hidden” and that is how they wish to keep it.
You can expect to see the recycling program members out on Nov. 15 for the America Recycles Day event that they are planning. They will be promoting recycling and buying recycled products. They will have pledge cards for people to sign, and will be giving out a minimum of 400 goodie bags as a thank you. The bags will consist of school items like notebooks and pencils made from recyclable products.