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Keeping recyclables clean

By: Eryn Pinksen

NAIT emphasizes the importance of sustainability on campus, however, it seems that students are lacking access to classroom paper recycling.

I previously attended the University of Alberta and in my first introduction to that campus it was made clear that paper handouts were an academic practice of the past.

The handout ban was for budgetary purposes, as well as the university’s sustainability plan to place an emphasis ecologically friendly practices.

Upon coming to NAIT, I was startled by the amount of paper handouts that are given in classes, which prompted me to search for the paper recycling bins in the Industrial Technical Building where I have the majority of my classes.

This lead to the discovery that there are only three easily accessible bins in the hallways of the first two floors of this building without any in-class paper recycling bins.

The Director of Facilities Management, Robert Akkerman, explained that when the recycling program was first introduced to campus in 2012, there was a small garbage bin and a recycling bin ordered for every single classroom at NAIT.

“The custodial team should be ensuring that those are there and if they’re not, we’ll have a chat with them,” said Akkerman.

Seeing first hand the inconsistent placement of bins in classrooms, I am concerned about the regulation of these bins. And if the program began in 2012, has it been updated to include the newer buildings?

Akkerman explains there are two types of bins on campus, one for any and all recyclable products and the other is for waste. The recyclable products all get placed into one large green bin near campus that the City of Edmonton then collects.

Outside the classroom, in public areas on campus there are a few designated newspaper recycling bins. However, they are meant to include all forms of recycling including plastic and cans.

“With the City of Edmonton program right now, we are recycling all paper that ends up in those bins,” said Akkerman. “Of course, we’re relying on people to put them in the bins.”

The City of Edmonton website explains that paper must be “empty, clean and dry” when recycled.

If paper is meant to be clean and dry when recycled, I wonder how efficient the current program is with paper being placed in bins with cans and bottles that are certain to have liquid waste

In the current partnership with the City of Edmonton, the city collects and sorts the recycling. However, there should be a focus on ensuring students have access to in-class paper recycling to keep this easily-recyclable material separate from other contaminating recyclables.

As a child I remember my family taking our recycling products to areas of town with large bins divided by plastic, cans and paper to sort our recycling to ensure the recyclables were not contaminated.

With the current recycling program, if paper still has to be “empty, clean and dry”, is it even possible to recycle uncontaminated paper with bins that are meant to be a catch-all?

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