With 23.8 percent of potential recycling being done on campus, K-State was ranked 173rd of 605 schools participating in a recent national college recycling competition.
Although the result could be considered good, Bill Spiegel, custodial supervisor and general operator of the Recycling Center, looks forward to increased recycling on campus.
“There is always room for improvement,” Spiegel said.
The Recycling Center is right behind Weber Hall on Claflin Road. Seven full time workers operate the center, which accepts newspapers, different types of paper, cardboard, aluminum, plastic bottles, and wooden pallets. Recycled material is picked up from all departments and bins around campus. Also there are eight bins for recycling outside the center where anyone can drop off material.
The recycling center doesn’t bring in money, but it saves money by diverting trash from the landfill. It costs the university $45 to take one ton of trash to the landfill.
Although recycling is both economically rewarding and ecologically clean, all of the recycling done on campus is voluntary. K-State has no mandatory recycling. Moreover, it is the only school in the Big 12 conference that doesn’t have a fee for recycling.
Nevertheless Spiegel is optimistic about improvements in recycling. He said in the fall 2013 students living in dorms might start paying for recycling services. Ashley Bailey, a senior in mass communication, did a study this past semester among students living in the dorm. She found that those students wouldn’t mind paying to fund recycling on campus.
“We will recycle more,” Spiegel said. “Right now it’s all on a volunteer basis, which we do a great job.”
Recycling won’t be campus wide. According to Warren Berg, manager of custodial services and director of recycling services, lack of education is the number one barrier to getting more people involved in recycling.
“The biggest thing is going to be the education.” Berg said. “We need to educate people better what can be recycled.”
To spread the message Spiegel attends different fraternity and sorority meetings telling them how they can bring their recyclables to the center.
“It has to be a group effort by everybody,” Berg said. “The students are what the president needs to hear voices come from. They are going to make a big difference.”
Spiegel is also asking students to collaborate with the recycling center. Installing more recycling containers around campus costs a lot. The average price of a recycling container that holds four products is roughly $1,200. To reduce expenses on the bins Spiegel is working with landscape architect students who are going to design recycling containers. At the same time interior architecture students are going to design bins that are supposed to be put inside the buildings.
“I think if you get the students more involved in designing, word of mouth on different projects will spread throughout campus,” Spiegel said.
The Recycling Center has always had strong support from the faculty, as it has today. Many departments ask for extra bins for recycling. Even President Kirk Shultz is helping. “He recycles at his house,” Berg said.