Over the past semester, rumors have floated among Wittenberg students that Wittenberg doesn’t truly recycle. Many Wittenberg students and faculty are interested and involved in environmental efforts at Wittenberg, so this rumor has become a hot topic among students.
David Nease, director of Physical Plant Operations, stated: “As long as the recycle containers in the buildings are not contaminated with trash, it will be recycled.”
The difference between what is and what is not recycled is the contents of each individual bag. If a recyclable bag has been contaminated with any kind of food substance, for instance, the whole bag has been turned from a recyclable bag to a garbage bag.
“Housekeeping staff pulls the trash and recyclables from their containers in the buildings and places them outside for grounds keepers to pick up and haul to the appropriate eight-yard container. Our grounds keepers [then] haul the trash to trash containers and the recycling to its container,” Nease stated.
There lies an eight-yard recycling container on the south side of Krieg Hall, which was provided by Waste Management. For recycle bags to end up there, they must remain contaminant free.
As to the students claiming that all the bags end up on the same truck, Wittenberg’s Go Green webpage states: “The university owns a trash compacting truck, which has two compartments for recycling, both of which lie directly between the truck’s cab in the front and the compactor in the rear.”
In 2008, Wittenberg University enacted a campus-wide recycling effort. For the past few years, both Wittenberg students and faculty have continued working on supporting recycling efforts throughout campus. In 2013, recycle bins were placed in classrooms, clearly labeled with what can and cannot be recycled, the Go Green page stated.
Wittenberg’s recycling program has gone through a few changes over the years since it began a campus-wide effort, including changes in labeling, bin placement, and most recently, a change in personnel.
“Some years ago, there were regular reports from the waste management plant where we haul our waste, reports which would indicate how many pounds of material leaving our campus were sent to the landfill and how many pounds were recycled,” Rick Incorvati, professor of English, stated. “There have been changes in personnel since then, so I’m not sure how readily available those numbers might be.”
The most up-to-date reports are from the 2013-2014 year on the Go Green webpage.
Faculty Sustainability Co-coordinator Ruth Hoff stated: “The Sustainability Task Force is also working on having magnets available for students with descriptions of what goes in each bin.”
In certain places on campus, recycle bins and garbage bins alike contain no lids, leaving students to throw their garbage in whichever bin they choose. Some places may only contain one bin, leaving no recycling option. In other cases, recycling bins are clearly labeled. In the end, it is all up to the student where they throw their garbage and recyclables.
If Wittenberg students hope to see a change within the recycling effort, then it is up to each student individually to make the choice whether to properly recycle or not. If recycling bins continue to become contaminated, that means less and less of actual recyclables will be recycled.
For a full list of guidelines as to what can and cannot be placed in the recycle bins, students can check out the Go Green Wittenberg Page under the tab Recycling Program and click on the Guidelines link.