Recycling Exists on Campus Despite Unmarked Bins

Jennifer Tinoco

Although recycling is not visible on campus, an outside contractor, the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) collects GCC trash and later recycles it at its site.

Everything from bottles and cans to paper and plastic is in fact recycled by MRF. But many here on campus are not aware of what is being done with our trash since there are no recycling bins available for students and faculty members.

Dan Padilla, Manager for Maintenance and Facilities, explained that there has been some form of recycling done on campus before.
“There were bins next to the trash cans for bottles and cans in most places but people kept throwing trash in them instead. This method just did not work,” said Padilla. Maintenance decided to get rid of the bins since it was a lot harder on the custodians to separate the trash.

Some custodians, however, are not aware if anything is being recycled at all. A janitor who preferred to remain anonymous said that she has no idea if the school is recycling.

“I feel bad throwing away all these bags filled with recyclables because of the environmental issues,” she said. “I am not notified to separate the trash and I really do not know if there is any recycling going on.”

Communications major Jessica Bourse, 19, said ” I feel evil throwing away my water bottles here at school. But you really can’t help it since there aren’t any special bins for [recycling] on campus.”

Special bins for paper were also located inside the offices and computer rooms but some faculty members did not feel comfortable with student workers going into their offices to collect the paper. That idea was also terminated.

But Director of Facilities Lew Lewis said, “ever since governor Wilson proposed the AB 79 bill five years ago, Padilla was right on top of it. We were five years ahead of schedule with our recycling program here.”

MRF has been collecting our trash since the bill passed in early 2002. The company uses single stream technology at their own facilities to automatically sort out paper, plastic, cans and glass from the school’s trash.

GCC does not get reimbursement for recyclables, MRF deals with it so they get the state refund.

Although it costs about 24 percent more in dumping fees for MRF to dispose the college’s trash it helps maintenance workers, who don’t have to take the extra time to separate recyclables and aren’t exposed to possibly hazardous materials.

“It is hard and dangerous work to sort out recyclables because you have to dig through piles of bacteria-filled trash and broken glass,” explained Padilla.

State law requires the facility here at GCC to recycle a minimum of 50 percent, “but we recycle a little more than 65 percent, including paper usage and furniture,” said Padilla.

Web sites have made a huge difference on paper usage. For example, the college Web site makes it easier for students to view the information they need and print out only what is important to them. Therefore paper usage is reduced.

GCC also uses Property Re-utilization, a method in which chairs, tables and other furniture is reused. And the state seems to really like this, according to Padilla.

“We also use the latest lawn mowers that cut the grass so fine that we end up throwing away less grass,” said Padilla. “The artificial turf on Sartoris Field also saves more energy since we do not have to worry about mowing it.”

The California Intergrated Waste Management Board is in partnership with GCC to help manage an estimated 88 million tons of waste each year by reducing and regulating the handling, processing and disposal of solid waste.

Another energy-saving feature on campus is waterless urinals, which “save a lot of water; one flush takes up about a gallon and half of water,” said Lewis.

Griselda Calito, 18, a Criminal Psychology major, was another student who said “I am not aware of any recycling methods here at school and sometimes I feel like we should be doing something about it.”

“Now that I’m aware of how the recycling method works here, I definitely feel less guilty about throwing away my empty soda cans,” said Bourse.