GW considers recycling changes

GW is considering adding a new garbage handler to improve flaws in its recycling program and recycle more waste, Facilities Management officials said.

The University will recycle at least 20 percent of its waste – almost three times more than recent averages – if GW adds Consolidated Waste Industries as a waste handler, said Tony Dillard, Facilities Management coordinating manager.

The University recycled 10 percent, or 37.76 tons, of its total garbage output in October – an improvement from last October, when only eight percent of waste was recycled, according to Dillard.

Dillard said he is unsure what factors contributed to the October increase.

I think a lot of that just comes from awareness on everybody’s part, Dillard said.

Despite some improvement, GW recycles less of its waste than neighboring American University, which has used Consolidated Waste Industries for about two years, said Mark Feist, assistant director of Grounds and Recycling at American.

GW recycled an average of seven percent of its waste in July, August and September, according to Facilities Management. American recycled 50 percent of its waste during the same period, and has consistently recycled half its waste while using CWI, Feist said.

That number stays pretty standard, he said. Before we went to this system we were around 14 to 15 percent.

If the University signs with CWI, it will still use its current contractors BFI Recycling Systems, Paper Stock Dealers, Inc. and Prince George’s County Scrap Inc., Fishback said.

GW has not posted a good recycling track record because bins designated for recyclable materials are often contaminated with garbage, Fishback said.

All we can recycle is what’s given to us, he said.

The outside bins are the most prone to contamination, Fishback said. GW offers bins designated for trash or recyclable materials around campus and in most residence halls.

CWI separates materials delivered to its recycling center in clear bags into recyclable material and garbage and would not require GW to separate its trash, Dillard said, adding that the Capitol Heights, Md., company collects all of American’s mixed waste.

CWI separates the trash using an assembly lines system, Feist said.

GW plans to deliver trash from separate receptacles instead of mixed waste, increasing the chance that more materials will get recycled, said Calvin Fishback, who oversees the transportation of waste for Facilities Management.

Here we’re planning on doing some separating ourselves and then send it, he said. If this works out it will probably be one of the best recycling programs in the city.

But some students said GW is not making a conscious effort to recycle, and lacks in other areas of environmental preservation.

There’s just stupid, wasteful things that go on, said senior Jessica Frohman, president of Free the Planet!, GW, a group formed last year to address campus environmental issues.

We started out with this group because it was pretty blatant that the freshman dorms didn’t have recycling bins at all, she said.

GW has not changed its recycling programs in residence halls despite her group’s efforts, Frohman said.

Frohman said she thinks GW’s housekeeping staff throws the contents of recycling bins with other waste.

I don’t think it’s their fault, it needs to be part of their job description, there needs to be incentive, she said.

Newspapers, mixed plastics, aluminum and glass are recycled from residence halls under GW’s contract, Fishback said.

Alexandra Pardo, FTP vice president and recycling campaign head, said GW does not do enough to educate students about recycling.

Coming from 50 different states and all over the world, students come in here and don’t know that your shampoo bottle is not made of the same plastic as your salad bowl, Pardo said.

Dillard said all recycling receptacles on campus are well marked and students should be able to just follow the directions on each of the containers.

Frohman said GW also partners with companies that do not care for the environment, including Coca-Cola, which signed an exclusive contract with GW last summer. Coca-Cola fails to take simple actions to promote ecological sustainability, according to ecopledge.com. The Web site encourages consumers, investors and students to petition corporations to improve their environmental behavior.

Coca-Cola uses less than one percent of recycled plastics in the 25 million plastic soda bottles it sells in the United States, according to ecopledge.com.

I’m a student here and I see the University as a business, Frohman said. If I’m a consumer of their product, I think they should bring in companies that are environmentally minded.

Frohman said that FTP has addressed this problem as part of its procurement campaign to get GW to recycle and buy recycled products.

Pardo said she feels students need to begin recycling now to improve the future of the environment.

The University has the responsibility to provide them with the means (to recycle) and right now they’re not doing that, she said. But there’s lots of other little things, from printing on two sides of a piece of paper and Chick-Fil-A using Styrofoam to Provisions double-bagging everything.

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