The state of recycling at University of Alaska Anchorage needs to be salvaged from the trash heap. According to the Union of Students Vice President David Parks the university hasn't had a recycling program in a while.
“It's been several years since there was a full-force recycling program on campus. Right now it's only being done by individuals in various offices,” Parks said.
Parks is chairman of a student ad hoc committee that is looking for ways to make recycling on campus a reality. The committee has a $2,000 budget, with an addition $1,000 allocated next semester.
Parks is also president of the Recycling Club. Last year, the group worked to get bins for aluminum, glass, cardboard, paper and tin set up around campus housing. Only the bins at West Hall remain, something that Parks plans on changing by next semester.
“The plan is to get bins set up at each of the halls, and it will be up to each individual if they want to use them. We are also planning on getting a large-scale collection bin set up, possibly in the East Hall parking lot,” he said.
The bins at West Hall, and a newspaper and cardboard recycling station in the Arts Building parking lot, are the only major recycling stations on campus.
Another solution under consideration is the creation of a paid position in the student government for someone who manages the recycling program, a strategy employed by the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
“Clubs and other programs die out if there is not someone consistently involved on campus. Student government is a constant, and it will ensure that someone is always maintaining the recycling program,” Parks said.
Trig Trigiano is director of Environmental Health and Safety/ Risk Management at UAA, and has seen volunteer-based recycling programs come and go. He recalls a program that was run by student volunteers that collapsed after three weeks, and left only him to go collect materials from 70 sites.
“Relying on volunteer programs can be problematic because students have different priorities. They are here to go to school,” Trigiano said.
Other students and faculty are making individual efforts.
Philosophy professor James Liszka maintains the newspaper bins outside the philosophy department in Building K. He also has students in his classes study the feasibility of recycling on campus.
“I think people want to see recycling here,” Liszka said. “Everybody in the administration has been helpful. We can figure out a good solution if we put our heads together.”
Liszka's students presented their ideas to Vice Chancellor Cynthia Matson, who is supportive of the recycling plans students and administration have worked on.
“Any collaborative effort between students and faculty is a true step in the right direction,” Matson said.
It appears that UAA can learn from mistakes made with recycling programs in the past and move forward with a program that will be around for years to come, perhaps by creating a paid position.
“We will have a full-scale recycling program. There absolutely has to be one next semester,” said Parks.