Students and faculty said they agree the push to recycle is stronger than ever, but the campus recycling system has room for improvement.
Junior Student Environmental Action Coalition president Sarah Redenius said she thinks the current recycling method is not the model it should be.
“We are trying to get more bins in more locations and educate students about how to recycle,” she said. “We want to provide a flawless recycling system.”
Despite recycling bins being situated around campus in nearly every residence hall and academic building, she said greater awareness is a necessity.
“Some students think we don’t even have a recycling system, and that perspective needs to be changed,” she said.
Freshman health sciences major Sadie Salsman said she encourages her peers to recycle and has a box outside her room where people place recyclable items.
“I think there is a lack of initiative on the student side when people won’t walk down the hall to throw things in a recycling bin instead of a garbage can,” she said.
Salsman pointed out while students should be recycling, “I have heard that the recycling ends up with the trash when it gets taken out.”
In several of the recycling bins on campus, there is crossover among different types of recyclable items, and Markin Family Student Recreation Center custodian Ted Baker said that results in garbage.
“We had to turn the recycling bins into garbage cans,” he said. “The students mixed the recycling and the garbage, and that contaminates the recycling materials. When you do that, the recycling becomes garbage, and we have to treat it like garbage.”
Sisson Hall custodian Mike Mahoney said he noticed the same crossover in the Michel Student Center recycling bins.
“I’ve seen the bins overflowing into each other,” he said. “I’ve asked my boss about the recycling in this building a few times because we have the bins, but I never see when it gets taken out or even where it goes.”
Pat Dempsey, director of custodial services, said custodians on campus are supposed to empty recycling on varying days.
“They alternate days taking out the garbage and taking out the recycling. If there are products in the recycling bin that cannot be recycled, it is contaminated and has to be taken out with the garbage,” she said. “Now and again we will get a report saying that a custodian was seen throwing uncontaminated recycling out with the garbage, and that person will be rebuked.”
Campus Recycling Coordinator Kevin Crowley said he feels the university is doing whatever is necessary to make the recycling program a success. Crowley oversees the disposal of the large, blue containers located in
“The recycle program is growing,” he said. “Not only are more people aware, but they are doing something about it.”
Crowley said he has a “green team” of six students who pick up the recycling two to three times weekly and take it to a large collection point on Duryea Place, where it is later transported by the Peoria Disposal Company or Midwest Fiber Recycling to be separated and recycled.
“I was able to persuade the company we do business with to paint the large collection container in Bradley colors,” he said. “I am in the process of finding some art students to paint it to make it even more personal. It is a point of pride for me.”
Crowley said he relies greatly on student feedback to improve the program.
“My green team helps me out a lot in giving me ideas,” he said. “If people aren’t using a receptacle, we move it somewhere people will.”
Crowley said in his last report to the county, Bradley had recycled seven tons of materials in one quarter.
“Everybody participating in this is doing a great job,” he said. “And it continues to grow.”