Taking out the trash

Charlotte Etherton/Photo Editor

Imagine the weight of ten hippos. Now imagine all that weight in recyclable paper and cardboard.

NKU’s recycling program recycled about 11 tons of material in just the month of May, according to Roger Reed, the lead material handler at NKU.

‘When the semester is in full swing, we have a 30-yard dumpster,’ Reed said. ‘It gets emptied, or exchanged, about once every seven or eight days. So it takes us about a week to get that thing all the way full just by collecting the beverage containers on campus.’

The program, which began in 2006, says that ‘having a positive impact on campus through quality service and encouraging waste reduction and recycling’ is its top priority, according to its Web site.

The recycling containers can be seen all over campus. Some have signs for plastic bottles, others for paper products only. Reed believes the labels have helped.

‘I think the signage helps,’ Reed said. ‘It makes people more aware of what the containers are for, but we still get trash mixed in.’

Reed said the mix up brought on the idea of placing recycling containers next to trash cans.

‘Obviously the trash should go in the trash can, and the recyclable materials should go in the appropriate container, but that doesn’t always happen,’ Reed said.

There is no one at NKU responsible for sorting through all of the bins, so when there is too much trash combined with the recyclable items it all just gets thrown out.

‘We don’t dig through the containers and sort out the trash,’ Reed said.

The items that get recycled also depend on what type of recyclable material it is. Reed said the number inside the circle of arrows on any container will tell you what kind of material was used for that item. You can find the guide at Earth911.com.

Even though there are flaws in the system, the program has still made progress and is continuing to make a difference.

NKU participated in RecycleMania, which was a 10-week contest for colleges and universities across the country. According to NKU’s Web site about the contest, schools compete by measuring the total waste, trash and recyclables collected on campus from Jan. 27 through April 5. The school with the smallest cumulative waste-per-person wins.
NKU placed 10th out of 95 schools.

Reed said the key to the program is awareness.

‘It’s about people being aware that it is an important process and that we have the containers available,” Reed said.’ ‘There are so many benefits to recycling.’