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FAQ's About the History of Recycling at WKU
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Describe the History of Recycling at WKU
Today, the process of recycling at WKU is a result of years of trial and error- and we are still a work in progress! In April of 2011, WKU transitioned to “single stream” recycling. This means that the most common recycled items” paper, plastic, aluminum, and small pieces of cardboard can all be placed into one recycling bin. We continue to separate out larger pieces of cardboard out and compact it at one of 3 cardboard compactors on campus. Recycling is collected in multiple locations including: Residence Hall lobbies, desk side recycling bins in offices, exterior “Victor Stanley” containers, game day/special event containers, community bins and finally the exterior building containers. 1 full time employee dedicated to collecting all of this recycling and taking it to a compactor off-site. Since 2011, recycling and surplus operations merged and are now 1 department. The added responsibilities of surplus means were are responsible for much more while utilizing existing staff.
Here is a timeline of our program
- Pre 2008- the Department of Facilities Management and Environment, Health, and Safety report on recycled commodities that are required by law such as bulbs, paints, batteries, oil, and refrigerant. Cardboard and metal are also recycled non-routinely as they generate small revenue. The state required this reporting by law.
- The program was managed by 1 recycling coordinator that started as a student position in 2007
- Between 2008 and 2009, recycling began to be implemented across campus into the academic buildings and was sorted into the separate commodities (only certain types of paper and 1 and 2 plastic bottles were recycled as well as cans and small cardboard).
- Fall of 2009 plastic bottles (#1 and #2 only are recycled in the residence halls)
- In 2009 the recycling coordinator became a full time position and the recycling program is managed by the grounds grew via a recycling coordinator and student workers.
- In 2009, $30,000 is invested into purchasing new recycling containers for the university
- By 2010, recycling is available in all buildings at some level.
- In 2011, recycling operations were transferred under the Office of Sustainability. Total staffing now includes 1 full time employee dedicated to picking up recycling with aid from student workers and 1 Recycling Coordinator.
- In April of 2011, recycling expands as “single stream” recycling is introduced.
- Fall of 2011 recycling and surplus operations were merged together while under the Office of Sustainability.
- Staffing added to account for surplus bringing the total full time employees to 3 (1 for recycling pick ups, 1 for surplus pick ups, 1 coordinator) supplemented by student workers.
- Surplus operations expand scope of department to include computer donations (and computer sanitations), furniture donations, all surplus pick ups and deliveries on campus, vehicle sales, building liquidations, and inventory control.
- In Fall of 2012 all recycling and surplus operations were moved back under campus services (within Facilities Management) and remain that way today.
What are some of the current goals/issues/programs the department is focusing on?
Current goals include:
- Updating campus bins and signage. Now that we have had recycling in some building for almost a decade, its time to revisit those buildings and be sure they have enough bins, their bins are utilizing the right signage, in the right places, and being emptied appropriately. This is a timely process and requires staffing and purchasing of new bins. While we do have some bins we can move around, we have no money to purchase brand new ones. We do not have an operating budget.
- Training and Education. Due to high turnover over BSA teams, we have to re-train year round on how to recycle and why it’s a priority. The same goes for staff, the university is always getting new staff or staff is moving offices. We want to be sure the staff always have a desk side-recycling container and its being properly emptied. We also want to know they understand what can go into the container.
Future goals or plans for the recycling program at WKU?
- Surplus and recycling staffing. Due to limited staffing we are supplementing our full time workload with students. It’s hard to determine what is more of a priority on some days, recycling or surplus? Better aligning the work loads with how much staffing we have is needed.
- Marketing. So many departments and students have no idea we exist or what we do. We are an essential campus function, especially when it comes to surplus. We want everyone to understand our staffing and our setup so they can better understand what role they play in disposing of trash, recycling, and surplus
What are some of the biggest challenges facing the department currently?
- Lack of staffing to move surplus and recycling in a timely manner during the busiest times of year
- Outdated and incorrect signage on bins
- New buildings not having bins
- Residence Halls having to adhered to different fire codes (thus preventing recycling of cardboard in the halls)
- Work demands of surplus take away staffing from recycling.
In the News!
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