Students gain greater understanding of recycling program in teach-in

With student concern about recycling issues on the rise, more than 20 students headed to 520 Park Dr. last night for a behind-the-scenes look at recycling at Boston University.

The recycling teach-in, which brought the Vice President of Sales of Boston University’s recycling company to relay his first-hand account of what the process entails, also offered food, drinks and a raffle for gift certificates to Tower Records and Legal Seafoods.

“Our employees go floor by floor [collecting bins],” said Dan Murphy, vice president of sales for Capital Paper Recycling, Inc. “Believe me, they wear running shoes. It takes two days to cover the entire campus.”

He explained that once the truck returns to Capital’s warehouse in East Weymouth, employees sort through the different types of paper by hand. The recyclables are processed and compacted into a 1,000-pound cube. The condensed bails are then sold to mills all over the world.

Students questioned Murphy on several aspects of the recycling business. He disclosed reasons why food containers such as tuna cans and milk bottles are not accepted by many recycling companies.

“They wreak havoc [in the warehouse],” Murphy said. “They have to be cleaned.”

He pointed out that cleaning empty food cans is time consuming and the sharp edges of cans can lead to safety risks.

“I was very glad to have Capital Paper here,” said College of Arts and Sciences junior Paul Mercurio, a recycling coordinator for South Campus. “It is the first step toward interacting with them and helping to make recycling easier for all of us. We want what they want: more recyclables.”

The meeting addressed the logistics of making recycling more prevalent on campus. Students suggested having bins in dorm lounges or outside of campus buildings.

“If I had my way, we would have one on every floor. The issue is safety and you have to adhere to local law” Murphy said. “You can’t just stick a bin in a hall. It is difficult for the fire department if there is a cumbersome barrel in the middle of the hall.”

It is for this reason that recycling areas are often hidden or found in basements out of clear visibility. With BU currently at a 35 percent recycling rate, students and staff are constantly looking for ways to increase recycling. One way of doing so is by increasing visibility.

The ESO has developed signs that will be placed at every garbage can directing students to the closest recycling bin.

“We want to get people more aware,” said CAS senior Robyn Kenney, the ESO president. “We’re starting to create leverage so we can go back to the administration and say we have this recycling.”

However, according to Sayaka Yamaki, an administrative coordinator for the Office of Environmental Health and Saftey, the process of increasing recycling must be kept on a small scale in order to be successful.

“We need to consider the logistics of what people can do,” Yamaki said. “Because this is such a big school and such an overwhelming idea. It’s the practical, day-to-day things that help.

She listed using reusable bags while grocery shopping and starting up discussions with other students as examples.

Since 1991, when Capital Paper began servicing BU, the number of bins on campus has increased from 20 to hundreds. There are now 13 sites around campus where bins can be found.

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