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The Price to Recycle

By Irene Hsiao
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 24, 1999
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UA recycling officials are discovering that saving the earth doesn't always pay off.

Students and staff members who organize University of Arizona recycling said campus-wide programs require significant effort for little cash back.

"We're recycling for the sake of recycling, but we aren't receiving any revenue for it," said Melissa Enrico, an administrative secretary for UA recycling.

The program's revenue totaled approximately $24,000 last fiscal year from recycling office paper, cardboard and aluminum, according to its annual report.

Under a contract with Pepsi Co. signed in June, the soda manufacturer replaced the majority of aluminum recycling with 60 receptacles for plastic bottles.

But the UA gains nothing except satisfaction from recycling the new containers because the university doesn't make any money from plastic, Enrico said.

"We are losing some revenue due to the switch over to plastic," she said. "With aluminum, we generate some revenue."

She added that the most money comes from recycling aluminum cans - about 1.9 tons of which have been processed this year since February.

The program recycled about three tons of aluminum last fiscal year for a total of $2,700.

Jason Wang, a graduate student who interns in Memorial Student Union operations, oversees the union's recycling. He said the union also incurs costs thanks to its earth-saving programs.

The UA's recycling processor, Friedman Recycling Co. Tucson, bills union operators because company workers sort through the union's trash to locate aluminum and plastic.

The company charges the union $50 a month to empty the red bin behind the union and $100 to collect the excess trash, he said.

Wang said he begs students and faculty to read the signs and put the recyclables in the appropriate receptacles.

"Please just put the right stuff in the right bins," he said. "We get charged an extra sorting fee."

UA Residence Life also participates in the university's recycling programs.

The department has given recycling officials a budget of $3,000, $1,000 of which comes from the Residence Hall Association and $2,000 for advertising.

"It would be great if we would have more money," said Erika Kreider, assistant to the Residence Life recycling chair. "We're kind of constrained."

Residence Life's program recycles 300 pounds of materials every two weeks, Kreider said.

The UA recycling program started in 1989, and the union's operations kicked off last year.