As the city’s department of public works considers re-implementing a recycling program in the District, GW’s Recycling Initiative doing its part to improve the environment, said Tim Assal, the initiative’s codirector. But questions linger about how many products actually get recycled on campus.
The Green University program originally was funded as an academic program, but questions arose about the productivity of the initiative, said Larry Hourcle, co-director of the environmental law program at GW and acting director of the University’s Institute for the Environment.
Green University continues to exist to educate people about environmental issues but is “under the wings” of Al Ingle, GW’s associate vice president for business affairs. The initiative no longer handles GW’s recycling efforts.
The GW recycling program was handed to the Student Association, which Assal said probably will work with the GW Recycling Initiative to replace the Green University’s recycling efforts. The SA and the District have made no definite plans to run a recycling program, he said.
The University have been regularly emptying the recycling bins on and around campus at a downtown recycling site. But if non-recyclable items are placed in a recycling bin, the entire bin is contaminated and must be discarded, Assal said.
The Green University was criticized two years ago after several students documented incidents in which housekeeping employees did not separate recyclables and garbage because they said the recyclables were contaminated.
“Our people are doing a good job . the contamination is taking place outside the campus,” Hourcle said.
Hourcle said a study conducted last summer revealed most of the contaminated bins were located between the Foggy Bottom Metro station and the State Department, where bins are accessible to passers-by who are not associated with GW.
Organizers of the initiative plan to place more recycling bins on campus and to put regular trash cans near recycling bins to avoid further contamination of the recyclable waste.
“Our philosophy is, if we don’t make it easy on the students to recycle their trash, then not many people will want to recycle,” Assal said.
Assal said the residence hall recycling system is good – recycling bins are located in every room of New Hall – but the organization still is looking for ways to improve the campus environment.