University unites with student recycling program

A new partnership was formed between UAA, USUAA and the student-recycling program to help fund and improve recycling on campus as a result of a March 2 meeting. Faculty and students involved with sustainability and recycling met with UAA Vice Chancellor Gebeyehu Ejigu in the USUAA office to discuss the future of the recycling program.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” USUAA President Chris Hall said.

The meeting was called to find a way to keep the recycling program running and to form a working relationship between the UAA administration and the recycling program.

“I am really excited that we are going to pull our resources together,” Ejigu said.

Ejigu found the work the recycling program is currently doing to be impressive.

He said the partnership was built to perform two purposes: To keep the program running and to make it more successful and effective.

Hall said the meeting went better than he expected despite recent conflict between administration and USUAA over the recycling program.

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“It was very positive,” he said.

An agreement was made to create a three to five person committee that will be in charge of building the partnership and setting specific goal-driven tasks for the future. Hall said he wouldn’t have any trouble filling the positions. He said he has a list of names that outnumbers the maximum number of members that will sit on the committee.

Though the committee hasn’t been selected yet, those attending the meeting set some initial goals for the group to work out including building a recycling compound and finding a way to recycle cardboard through the student-run program.

The proposed compound, which would be located near the Fine Arts Building, will include Dumpsters locked behind a chain-link fence with a cover to protect from rain and snow.

Currently, the recycling program is having issues with students throwing regular garbage into the recycling Dumpsters. This can cause the paper to become contaminated and the entire load can go to waste. The ability to lock the dumpsters will allow only those who are involved with the recycling program and the pick-up service to access them.

Trig Trigiano, director of environmental health and safety and risk management, also attended the meeting. Trigiano reported the cost of having a janitorial service pick up the recyclable paper that the student program currently handles would be $67,000.

“Essentially we are providing $67,000 in services,” Hall said. He said the recycling program currently completes this work for about $5,000.

Hall said he is looking to the future instead of dwelling in the past and that everyone is now taking responsibility for the burden of recycling.

In the meantime, USUAA will continue to run the student-recycling program. Spencer recently agreed to serve as student recycling director for one more year.

Hall was happy to have Spencer commit because the program depends upon a hard-working student to organize volunteers. The recycling program will continue to be based around student volunteers, although there is a long-term goal to form a sustainability office on campus that would house the recycling program along with other sustainability projects.

The exact funding the university will supply was not discussed at the meeting but it is estimated that the new dumpster compound will cost $7,000 to $10,000.

“We are going to be able to have the university work with us more in expanding the program where it is needed,” Hall said. “I’m excited to see the direction we’re heading.”