The Collegian

Educate yourself on recycling processes, sustainability awareness

Jennifer McLaughlin

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Waste is a funny thing. We toss an item into the recycling bin but don’t think about where it goes after it leaves our hands. However, when you consider it, there must be a process behind placing an item in a recycling bin and it being turned into a new product. And indeed there is. Let’s take a look.

On campus, the process starts with a recyclable item being placed in the hallway recycling bin. Next, facility workers empty the bins. As they do so, they conduct a visual assessment to see if the recycling bag contains any contaminants, another word for trash, in the recycling bin.

If there are no contaminants, the bag goes to the recycling dumpster. If there are contaminants, the bag goes to the trash.

Next, Brookings Dumpster Service empties the dumpsters. Upon arrival, it assess the dumpsters contamination. If the bin has no contamination, they start emptying the dumpster into the truck.

If the dumpster is highly contaminated, the workers won’t even empty the container. Instead, a trash truck hauls the contents to the landfill. SDSU is then charged the trash fee as opposed to the recycling fee.

Once the recycling truck is full, Brookings Dumpster hauls the materials to Millennium Recycling Inc. in Sioux Falls. The recycling contents are once again assessed to ensure there is no trash in the recycling.

If there is too much trash, SDSU is charged a fee and the entire truckload is sent to the landfill. On the other hand, if there is no trash the recycling continues through the process of being sorted by type of material. Once all items are separated, they are compacted and baled before being shipped off to various companies to be made into new products.

In this process, it’s really important to note how any trash in the recycling can affect the process. Its harm can include the environmental impact of a dumpster load going to the landfill instead of being recycled and the health impact of workers coming in contact with certain items such as medical needles, which should not be placed in the recycling bin. In addition, it lowers the value of the materials sold to manufacturers.

The recycling process starts with each person and everyone can make a huge impact by ensuring that they only place recyclable materials into the recycling bins. You can find information on what to recycle on the SDSU website.

With a campus wide goal to reach a 25 percent recycling rate by July 2018, we need everyone on board and recycling the appropriate items.

Now is a great time to start recycling because from Feb. 4 to March 31, SDSU is competing in RecycleMania, a nationwide recycling competition between universities that works to reduce waste and increase recycling.

Jennifer McLaughlin is the SDSU sustainability specialist and can be reached at [email protected]

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Educate yourself on recycling processes, sustainability awareness