After nearly a year-long joint effort with the University of Dallas administration, Greg Vanderheiden, the president of the environmental conservation organization (ECO), succeeded in establishing the tentative return of recycling services to the student apartments.
Over spring break, a new recycling dumpster was moved to the parking lot behind the student apartments where a trash dumpster formerly was. Residence Coordinator Sarah Baker sent an email to student apartments residents on Monday, March 22 informing them of the addition and advising how to properly sort recyclable goods.
Recycling is only available to the student apartments and through the plastic blue recycling bins in academic offices, which Vanderheiden, a student worker for Office of Student Affairs (OSA) working as an advocate for UD’s recycling program, picks up and empties in the recycling bin near the student apartments.
UD’s recycling service Balcones Resources provides the dumpster behind the student apartments.
Although the UD administration wants to again provide recycling services in the traditional dorms in the future, that is not feasible at the moment, according to Dean of Students Julia Carrano.
“Currently we do not have recycling bins in the traditional halls for several reasons, including limited assistance in emptying these bins and prior contamination concerns,” Carrano wrote in an email to The University News.
On Thursday, March 25, Baker and Vanderheiden held a meeting in the student apartments courtyard outlining the proper way to recycle to instruct residents. The meeting hoped to educate the residents so that the university would avoid fines for misuse of the recycling dumpster.s. During the meetings, Baker and Vanderheiden also distributed a few clear trash bags which can be used to dump recyclable materials into the bin, available through the Office of Student Affairs.
For every ton of recyclable materials which has litter (non-recyclable items which have to be removed for the other items to be processed and reused), UD will face a $100 fine, said Baker at the meeting on March 22.
UD’s recycling program was shut down in March 2020 due to its inefficiency. OSA, which runs the budget for recycling services, faced massive fines because of regular contamination of trash being thrown in the recycling bin.
OSA administrators also could not afford resources to teach proper recycling procedures to students last semester.
“Finally, we are challenged with proper education around recycling, both the importance of recycling and what/how items can be recycled. Greg has done a wonderful job of creating flyers and signs, updating our website, and holding a meeting with the student apts to ensure everyone is educated, but it is definitely an ongoing issue,” Carrano wrote.
“It was hard to bring back,” Vanderheiden said of the recycling program. The residents of the student apartments are instrumental in helping UD administrators determine how the recycling program will work long-term at UD because if it is certain locations or methods which cause problems, the program will be adjusted accordingly.
“The primary goal is longevity,” according to Vanderheiden. UD administrators and the ECO club are committed to “making sure [the recycling program] stays,” he said.
Among the instructions on Vanderheiden’s informative flyers distributed at the Monday meeting, it listed that paper, cardboard and plastic goods are acceptable as long as they are empty, clean (without stains) , and dry (empty of liquid contents).
While the addition of the recycling bins is a successful feat after a semester without any environmentally-friendly practices on campus, UD facilities and OSA will be observing how well students practice proper recycling, hoping to avoid major fines and to stay within their limited budget for these services.
Before the services can be expanded to other areas of campus, such as the traditional dorms, “we need to see low levels of contamination in the apartment dumpster as well as in the academic departments,” Carrano wrote.
If the recycling services and practices in the academic buildings and the apartments prove efficient and reliable, UD will expand its recycling efforts.