Social awareness of the declining health of our environment and the human contribution to this crisis has rapidly grown in the past decade. Despite this, the recycling program at West Chester University is of concern.One of the biggest factors in the decline of the school’s recycling is the lack of knowledge regarding the do’s and dont’s of recycling. The average college student produces 640 pounds of solid waste each year, including 500 disposable cups and 320 pounds of paper.
WCU’s campus lies within three different townships; East Bradford Township, West Goshen Township, and the West Chester Borough. Fortunately, these townships follow the same guidelines on what can and cannot be recycled. All buildings should be provided with recycling bins for each type of recyclable. Every residence hall should also provide students the proper receptacles to recycle plastic, cans, glass, and mixed paper. If there are any that do not, the absence of the bins should be reported.
It is important to throw the right objects in the right receptacles. If the wrong products are placed in the wrong bins, they must be resorted. It is often the case that when this happens, the entire bin is thrown out with the trash because the maintenance staff does not have the time to resort all the recycling. If a bin does not have a label, a good way to understand what goes where is by the shape of the bin. Circular bins are designated for cans, square bins are used for plastics and glass, and the rectangular bins are for mixed papers.
Not all types of the same products can be recycled, however. For example, not all types of glass are recyclable. Any type of broken glass or drinking glasses, light bulbs, window glass, mirrors, porcelain, blue glass or ceramics cannot be recycled. Only clear bottles and jars, and those colored brown or green will be recycled.
The many different types of paper can lead to confusion as to which types can and cannot be recycled. Types of paper that cannot be recycled include waxed paper, waxed cartons, frozen food boxes, plastic bags, tissues, paper towels, napkins, food wrappers and metallic wrapping paper. However, newspapers, magazines, standard mail, phone books and paper bags are all recyclable.
One of the most important types of items that get recycled are plastic. Narrow-necked bottles, soda bottles, water bottles, and laundry detergent bottles can usually all be recycled. It is important in the recycling process of plastics that lids be removed prior to recycling. The lids on these bottles are made of a different type of plastic that cannot be recycled.
When bottles are thrown in a recycling bin with the lid on, they will end up wasting more plastic than the bottle itself. Also, plastic bottles that are used for motor oil, antifreeze, and similar products are not able to be recycled. No yogurt, margarine or similar plastic food tubs can be recycled either.
Plastics have a numbered code on them that relate to their ability to be recycled. If the number “1” or “2” is found on the plastic, it can be recycled. Generally, this number is found within the recycling triangle on the plastic. If the number is not “1” or “2,” or does not have a number at all, it cannot be recycled.
All types of metal containers are recyclable. It aids the recycling process if metal containers are rinsed before they are put into recycling bins. Aluminum foil, food wrappers, ovenware and aerosol and paint cans are items that are not recyclable.
While recycling guidelines are extensive, the process does not truly work or help the environment if it is not properly followed.
Patrick Gardner is a third-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at PG606954@wcupa.edu.