Government Policy of Recycling on Campus
A cyclical process, as the word itself indicates, the relevance of recycling cannot be overstated. Most importantly, recycling not only helps save energy, but also plays a critical role in the reduction of pollution — thus helping slow down global climate changes. As a campus policy, recycling makes great sense — both environmentally and economically. The government should force recycling on campus because it is good for secondary utilization of resources.
Recycling Policy on Campus: What We Ought to Do
With a recycling policy in place, there is a lot campuses can do that is good for secondary utilization of resources. To expound on this assertion further, it would be prudent to look into the areas in which campuses can seek to responsibly manage waste. These areas include turning various items including, but not limited to, plastic, cans, glass, paper, etc. into resources.
To begin with, with regard to waste paper, it is important to note that paper in the form of old study materials, notebooks, newspapers, as well as office stationery can be recycled or reused. In essence, recycling waste paper helps save a lot of resources such as water and energy which are ordinarily used in connection with virgin paper. Thanks to such an endeavor millions of trees could also be spared. According to Raworth (2012, p. 6) “humanity is currently living far beyond the planet’s means, consuming the Earth’s renewable resources as if we had one and a half planets to draw upon.” There is need to ensure that resources are spared, whenever possible. Some of the sites that ought to be targeted as far as recycling of paper is concerned include administrative offices, lecture halls, and academic libraries. These, in my opinion, are the sites that should also be encouraged to be proactive as far as waste management is concerned.
Items like glass and plastic containers can also be reused. In addition to reducing air pollution, recycling glass also helps save energy and reduces water consumption. This is in comparison to the production of glass from virgin materials. Scrap steel, also referred to as waste metal objects, also make excellent raw materials in the manufacture of new steel. Where scrap or waste steel is not utilized in the manufacture of new steel, mining of steel ore becomes the alternative as far as the procurement of new steel is concerned. In that regard, therefore, by collecting and appropriately dispatching unwanted steel for reuse, campuses would be playing a huge role in the minimization of the amount of energy used in various industrial processes. Natural resources could also be conserved by reusing waste aluminum cans. Otherwise, bauxite ore will still continue to be used in the manufacture of aluminum cans, hence resulting in both water and air pollution. Beverage cans constitute most of the waste aluminum found in campus. Waste plastics, on the other hand, are mostly discarded packaging materials and polythene bags. Careless disposal of plastic products, on campus grounds or elsewhere, could, amongst other things, lead to water-logging and trigger soil infertility. However, appropriate utilization of plastic waste, i.e. By recycling the same helps in the conservation of energy. Recycling of batteries also helps reduce the amount of toxic chemicals and heavy metals that end up at landfills, thus polluting and causing great strain to our natural resources. Batteries that could be recycled included unwanted lithium, nickel-cadmium, and alkaline batteries.
A government policy of recycling on campus is likely to succeed given that quite a number of universities currently have an effective campus recycling program in place. One such institution is Vanderbilt University. Established in 1992, Vanderbilt University’s recycling program, as the institution points out on its Website, “has evolved and continues to grow through the active involvement and participation of the student body, staff and faculty.” Some of Vanderbilt’s recycling programs recent successes include the recycling of 2,332 tons of paper, aluminum, as well as plastic and cardboard. Year 2012’s efforts, for example, as Vanderbilt University points out on its Website, resulted “in $72,518 in recycling rebates and over $140,000 in avoided landfill fees.” This is one of the clearest indicators yet that a policy of recycling on campus is not only viable but also extremely beneficial. The campus today successfully recycles batteries, florescent light bulbs, and even computers. Yet another university with a clear and well-defined recycling plan is the University of Texas at Arlington. Already, the university has in place what it refers to as an award-winning program of composting and recycling. Some of the items and waste materials the university actively recycles include, but they are not limited to, metals, lamps, food debris, aluminum, and paper. All in all, therefore, a government policy of recycling on campus is largely practical and sustainable.
Next, it should also be noted that thanks to the successful adoption of what is referred to as the single stream recycling system, recycling on campus is now more convenient than ever. As a consequence of the adoption of this particular system, all waste and unwanted materials can be disposed into a single bin. Campuses that have successfully adopted the single stream recycling system include, but they are not limited to, the George Washington University and the University of Maryland.
Even in seeking to advance the agenda of a government policy of recycling on campus, it would be prudent to evaluate some of the arguments that could be floated against such a move. One such argument has got to do with the costs associated with recycling on campus. On this front, recycling in campus could be viewed as being an expensive or costly “add-on,” as most campuses actively seek ways of trimming their operating costs. For this reason, some campuses could instead pursue alternate disposal avenues instead of recycling. As a matter of fact, costs associated with a recycling policy on campus could be a real de-motivator for budget-conscious campuses, thus inviting all sorts of resistance including, but not limited to, claims that embracing such a policy would divert the attention of education institutions from their key mandate of imparting knowledge. It should, however, be noted that if executed well, a campus policy on recycling could indeed reduce costs, and hence does make great economic sense. In addition to generating some additional income from the sale of recyclable materials, campuses that embrace a recycling policy could also significantly reduce costs associated with the purchase of materials that could be reused on-site.
Initially, the government could encourage campuses to achieve a solid waste stream recycling level of 25%. This could be later graduated to 50%. In so doing, the government could establish an Environmental Task Force that is solely charged with the development and implementation of campus recycling mechanisms as well as guidelines.
To attain the government set solid waste recycling levels, campuses could formulate a number of strategies, such as ensuring that all faculty and staff are actively involved in the recycling efforts. To ensure success, the effort of everybody, including resident and commuter students, is of the essence. Indeed, as I have already pointed out elsewhere in this text, one of the reasons Vanderbilt University gives for the success of its campus recycling program is the active participation of its faculty, staff, and student body. Indeed, as Jones (2008) points out, students are worthy members of what he refers to as the Green Worth Alliance. In his words, “students’ energy and enthusiasm have already turned up the heat in the movement to prevent catastrophic climate change” (Jones, 2008). The relevance of monitoring progress cannot also be overstated. Campuses also ought to invest in the relevant initiatives and programs. Key amongst these is the creation of awareness and installation of recycling containers at strategic points across the campus.
In addition to saving the campus money on disposal, recyclables could also be sold so as to generate income for the concerned academic institution. Campuses that adopt the said policy would, therefore, be demonstrating both revenue potential and cost avoidance. By moving to enforce a recycling program on campuses thought the country, the government would essentially be triggering a worthy sustainability cause.
Jones, V. (2008). Working Together for a Green New Deal. Retrieved from http://www.thenation.com/article/working-together-green-new-deal
Raworth, K. (2012). A Safe and Just Space for Humanity: Can we live Within the Doughnut? Retrieved from http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/dp-a-safe-and-just-space-for-humanity-130212-en.pdf
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