by Julie Lineback
The University of West Georgia generates a lot of trash. Think about it. Thousands of students and workers are going West and with them comes a whole lot of rubbish—mainly in the form of cardboard, plastics, paper and cans.
Enlarge to see recycle roll-off container locations.
In 2011 alone, Auxiliary Services—which operates such refuse producers as Food Services, the bookstore, the post office and vending—hauled nearly 3,000 dumpster loads of trash to the Carroll County Landfill.
“We have always been aware that we generate a substantial amount of waste from our operations,” says Mark Reeves, assistant vice president of Auxiliary Services. “With 12,000 students and 1,100 faculty and staff, there’s bound to be waste.”
Along with Facilities and Grounds, Risk and Environmental Management, and Purchasing, Mark put together a six-month pilot program in early 2012 focusing on paper, cardboard, plastic bottles and aluminum cans.
“Facilities has often tried to sew together a network of recycle vendors,” he recollects. “The problem is, because the value of recycle commodities is so volatile in the market place, vendors tend to pour-in when times are good and seemingly vanish when commodity values drop. Historically, it has been very difficult amassing a stable, reliable vendor network for UWG recycles.”
Armed with lessons learned from the pilot program, the team expanded its effort for academic year 2014 by decentralizing recycle container locations and adding collection to move-in days. It also evolved to include residence halls, classrooms and offices.
“We want to continue to grow the program incrementally and strategically so that the effort remains manageable and successful,” Mark adds. “By the end of this academic year, we’d like for all facets of the campus to have knowledge of and full access to the many recycle opportunities on campus.”
Part of the educational outreach included a visit from UWG’s beverage vendor, Coca-Cola. One of the company’s recycling education vehicles (REVs) was on campus Thursday, October 17. With video screens, interactive displays, and games, it brought valuable information on recycling in a fun and interactive environment for students.
“We should consider ourselves stewards of our, and future generations, environment,” he concludes. “We generate a lot of waste and we have a manageable choice as to what we do with that waste; we can actively recycle it or we can passively let the waste directly into our environment. Under our current program not only is it possible to recycle a substantial amount of our UWG waste, but it is also doable in a way that in financially sound.”