GCC Leads the Way in Statewide Recycling Program

Jennifer Carno
El Vaquero Staff Writer

California’s Integrated Waste Management Act requires at least 25 percent of all solid waste generated to be recycled by Jan. 1, 2002, and at least 50 percent by Jan. 1, 2004. GCC is not only in compliance with the law, it is reaching beyond the regulations.

The campus already recycles more than 50 percent of diverted waste. Aluminum, paper, plastic, and glass thrown into a trashcan at GCC are recycled.

“We’re using a realistic approach,” said Dan Padilla, who serves both as manager of maintenance and operations and the campus recycling coordinator. “If I put out [recycle] bins, I get trash mixed in. What we do is have Southland Disposal Company pick up our trash and they bring it to a Material Recovery Facility and all of the trash is sorted there. Because of this, we recycle everything that can be recycled.”

Padilla said that this is a more expensive way to recycle, but that it is the most efficient. “The money comes from the facilities budget,” he said.

GCC also gets credit for the use of e-mail. Since paper is not used in e-mail correspondence, no paper is wasted. “Recycling is not just about recycling,” Padilla said. “Sometimes it is a last ditch effort. It is important to stop usage [as well]. We are [even] reusing furniture rather than buying new.”

Outside of GCC, other colleges are placing equal efforts on recycling.

Santa Monica College is also ahead of schedule. Grounds Manager Tom Corpus feels that they

“have already diverted 37 percent of waste. The big three of recycling are paper, green waste, and construction demolition.”

Not only is SMC recycling many products that create a large percentage of trash, it is planning to recycle many more items in the future. In a couple of weeks “we are going to be installing Vermitech machines that compost food waste with worms,” said Corpus.

Corpus also said that the school plans on “recycling batteries, tires, air conditioners, heaters, and some hazardous waste. Go into any office or anywhere and you will find something that can be recycled.” SMC is also looking forward to working with the city by instituting some Vermitech machines on the Third Street Promenade.

Los Angeles Valley College is “continuing to improve,” said Charles Long of facilities. “For now we are only recycling green waste and cardboard. We had vandalism. Scavengers caused problems when we attempted to recycle aluminum.” Although LAVC has had some minor setbacks, it is working very hard and is in compliance.

“We need more cooperation from the students and staff,” said Long. “Basically, we need more man power.” Like many schools, it is actively developing its recycling program with clear goals of diverting trash.

Pasadena City College also has a strict recycling program. Throughout the campus, bins for aluminum and plastic are found. Linda Ruff of facilities services said, “We have a whole new recycling program. We recycle white, computer, and colored paper, mixed media, cardboard and grass cut from the lawn.”

PCC also has an on-campus environmental club called Earthwise. This club is dedicated to educating people about the environment while at the same time getting involved. “Earthwise plans to devote two hours during lunchtime in the quad on Nov. 29 and Dec. 6 to the recycling effort,” said club president Marina Leigh Duff. “We are going to set up tables displaying and selling recycled items. We hope to show people the fun side of recycling. Everything from bookmarks and notepads made of recycled paper, cardboard and string, to our club sign which includes recycled boxer shorts, will be shown.”

Padilla says that students and staff can help with the recycling efforts by making sure they place white paper in the assigned trash bins where available. More white bins will be distributed throughout campus towards the end of the school year.