On-Campus recycling programs could do more

By D. Shayne Christie
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 2, 1996

Kristy Mangos
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Richard Garb, UA Recycling program coordinator, works with a small team of students and about 300 custodians to make sure the UA community recycles effectively.


UA Recycling has grown steadily since the program's meager beginnings, but UA's recycling director says current programs are not working at full potential.

One problem confronting recycling at University of Arizona is the limited resources that UA Recycling has to operate with, said Richard Garb, director of UA Recycling.

Another problem facing the Student Union recycling program is that it is unable to find a market for polystyrene, said Joe Sottosanti, assistant director for the Memorial Student Union.

While most recycling is handled by UA Recycling, Garb said Residence Life, the Memorial Student Union and the Greek system handle their own recycling.

UA Recycling

UA Recycling started in 1990 when the governor's office mandated that all state agencies reduce the amount of waste they generate, Garb said.

Garb said UA Recycling handles 95 percent of on-campus recycling.

Although the program gets the job done with a meager four-student staff and the help of custodians, Garb said to operate at its full potential the program would need more space and resources.

UA Recycling gets university support, but the small staff has had trouble keeping up with the volume of material, he said.

"We are supported 100 percent by the university," he said. "We are in a growth phase now," he said, adding that the program plans to hire more students soon.

UA Recycling also depends on about 300 custodians who help consolidate the recyclables, he said.

"They are the unsung heroes," said Garb, noting that custodians do not get paid extra for recycling work.

The UA Recycling program recycles office paper, cardboard and aluminum and assists with newspaper recycling.

Paper is collected in bins around campus, and Weyerehaeuser Recycling picks it up, bails it, and ships it to a mill in the northwest United States, he said.

Garb also said aluminum is shipped in town to Ellis Waste and Recycling Services Inc. Cardboard is also picked up and shipped by Weyerehaeuser Recycling, but sometimes other companies do the pick up.

"Whoever has the top price" is awarded the pick up, Garb said.

He also said the program does not have enough space to work in, and as a result, it has to sell all recyclables right away instead of holding them until prices rise.

Garb said the UA is looking for a bigger space for the program.

"We don't have much. We put stuff wherever we can," he said. "We can't even get big trucks in here."

He said the program has about 2,500 square feet of space, and that the program wants an enclosed space with a minimum of 15,000 square feet for a new facility.

Plans for the new facility are still in the works, he said.

The program generated $36,000 in revenue last year from the sale of recyclables and received an additional $12,000 from the state, he said.

Garb said $5,000 of last year's $48,000 budget was not spent. He said the program was able to buy a truck, a bailer for cardboard consolidation, and more boxes, barrels, and containers that serve as receptacles for recyclables.

UA Recycling saved the UA $20,000 last fiscal year, which Garb said would have otherwise been spent for landfill space. He said it would cost UA $2,000 a month to deposit waste in a landfill, not including the cost of transporting it or hiring people to haul it.

"We're saving them (the UA) almost twice what they gave us," said Harry Cooper, a wildlife and fishery science senior and UA Recycling student employee.

The number one material in the UA waste stream is paper, Garb said.

In 1995, the program recycled 317 tons of office paper and 120 tons of cardboard. Those numbers were up from 1994's 200 tons of paper and 90 tons of cardboard, Garb said.

UA Recycling also saved the equivalent of 7,422 trees and 1,441 cubic yards of landfill space last year, he said.

Garb said he thinks the current system works well, but feels the different recycling groups on campus need better communication.

"Sometimes I think decentralization is better," Garb said.

Greek Recycling

Only a small percentage of the UA's waste stream is generated by the Greek system, Garb said.

Neil Messing, finance junior and Interfraternity Council vice president for public relations, said the fraternities do not recycle, but the sororities do.

Fraternities plan to start recycling this semester, Messing said. He said there have been efforts to educate fraternities about recycling , but those did not result in a coordinated recycling program.

Ryan Anderson, a political science senior and IFC vice president, said the UA does not want to work with the fraternities, and the IFC would be charged up to $200 for bins. He said this has prevented the fraternities from coordinating recycling.

"We would love to work with the UA," Anderson said.

Heather Kahn, accounting senior and member of Alpha Omicron Pi, spearheaded the effort to get sororities to recycle two years ago. She is also a member of Education by Example.

The sororities' program began collection in the spring, and since then it has grown to include all but two sororities, Kahn said. She said this semester it also includes two fraternities: Sigma Nu and Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

UA Recycling allows Kahn to borrow one of its trucks every other Friday to collect the sororities' recyclables, Kahn said.

After being collected, some recyclables are taken to UA Recycling's facilities. Others not handled by the UA's program are taken to Freedman Recycling Co.

Kahn said she thinks recycling not only saves resources and landfill space, but can be a source of income to a chapter.

"It is possible for a chapter to make $150 to $200 or more based on cash coming in and reduction in expenses," Kahn said.

Kahn also said her chapter saved $35 a month on their waste management bill after they started recycling.

"We have been trying to work with IFC, and we have had a lot of problems getting their support."

Garb said he would be happy to help fraternities develop a program, and that the UA Recycling program does not charge for the use of bins. He said that while cardboard-box recycling receptacles are available for $3.50 each, they are not necessary for recycling to work.

"They're not thinking about recycling. They don't care. They don't even put their trash in the trash containers," he said.

Different fraternities were cited on two occasions in 1996 by the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality.

The County handed out notices of violation to nine fraternities in 1996 for "unlawful storage of solid waste and/or unlawful disposal of solid waste."

On Feb. 26, the UA chapters of Sigma Chi, Phi Gamma Delta, Alpha Tau Omega, Theta Tau, and Phi Delta Theta were cited for piling trash around the containers and elsewhere on their properties, and for leaving furniture around the dumpsters, according to the notices. The notices gave the violators 10 calendar days to correct the situation.

Notices were also delivered April 23 to Alpha Kappa Lambda, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Alpha Epsilon Pi and Delta Tau Delta for similar waste-disposal code violations.

Anderson said fraternities tried repeatedly to get larger dumpsters from the city, but the city will not allow it because of their proximity to UA.

"Looks can definitely be deceiving," Anderson said in regards to people who might think the fraternities are irresponsible about waste management.

"You need to look at all the different factors."

Residence Hall Recycling

Two to 3 percent of the university's waste stream is handled through Residence Life Recycling, Garb said.

Becky Donofrio, an environmental sciences senior, was appointed last week as the Department of Residence Life's new recycling coordinator.

"I think they have a lot of good leaders in their halls already; now that I'm here, we are going to be able to coordinate a lot better," Donofrio said.

Ann Pertuit, chemical engineering sophomore and recycling coordinator for Maricopa Hall, said it is up to each hall's recycling coordinator to decide what materials are recycled.

According to a copy of last year's Residence Life Recycling newsletter, Recycling Record, residence halls recycled aluminum, polystyrene, newspaper and office pack paper.

Pertuit led Maricopa Hall in collecting the most recycled material last year. For their efforts, hall residents received one $300 stipend. The hall's residents also made about $100 directly through recycling various materials, she said.

Pertuit said the key to getting involvement is by making it so easy for people to do.

"Other dorms or anywhere people are, they want to recycle, but they're not going to go out of their way to do it," Pertuit said. "You have to put it in their way and make it hard for them not to recycle.

"I think they put forth a real strong effort," Garb said of the residence halls' recycling efforts.

Student Union Recycling

Joe Sottosanti, assistant director for the Memorial Student Union, said the Student Union recycling program cannot recycle polystyrene right now because they cannot find anyone to buy it.

"The Student Union is recycling everything but polystyrene," Sottosanti said. "There is no money market for it. There are companies out there that do recycle it - we are investigating who will take it."

Sottosanti said finding a company that will recycle polystyrene is the Union's number one goal.

He also said students need to be educated to understand where products go after they use them. He said Education by Example, a University Activities Board group, sets the goals for Union recycling and is responsible for educating the university community.

Pertuit said the Union could do better if it could reduce the amount of waste it generates and make recycling more convenient.

"They're not showing an effort to use as little as possible as far as Styrofoam goes," Pertuit said. "They use excessive amounts of disposable things as opposed to washing dishes."

Pertuit said she agreed that the Union could make recycling more convenient by putting the bins closer to the tray cart areas.

Shawn Radziminski is the Education by Example chairwoman who is working to educate students about recycling.

"Education by Example is a committee of 12 students, and our primary goal right now is to educate people on recycling - where, how and what are the benefits," Radziminski said.

The committee is planning a movie event where admission is paid by students in aluminum cans or some recyclable material, she said. Radziminski said the movie would feature an "environmental" message.

Education by Example will also be on the UA Mall Oct. 8 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to collect newspaper and white and non-fluorescent paper to be recycled, said Ryan Clark, anthropology junior and member of the organization.

Regarding campus recycling efforts, Radziminski said, "I think overall it is pretty good, but the different parts of campus have different focuses. I think collaboration would be good so people across campus could recycle the same waste."

"Overall each of them have their strengths, but they need to work together more," she added.