College recycling program needs help from students and staff

The college’s recycling program has been around since 1991, said Nancy Johnson, custodial services manager, but has had difficulty keeping up with its duties lately due to reduction in staff and budget cuts.

The college’s custodial staff are in charge of SPSCC’s single-stream recycling system that allows cardboard and plastic to be recycled in one bin. Glass is not recycled at all through the college, mostly because none of our vendors carry glass products, said Johnson.

During the end of January this year, custodial services were unable to empty bins on time for the Le May garbage trucks to pick them up as scheduled. Johnson said this was simply due to being short-staffed.

In 2006 SPSCC volunteered as the first to try out the single-stream system in Washington state through the Le May company, said Johnson.

Now because of the success the single-stream system had in our school, single-stream recycling is common in many households, she said. SPSCC is the only commercial single-stream system in Thurston County.

Cleaning and taking care of the school is our first priority as custodians, said Johnson. If I had more time and manpower, I would love to be promoting our recycling program more, she said.

The recycling bins reside both inside and outside most campus buildings, but not inside the classrooms themselves. Several teachers have their own recycling bins in their classrooms, but Johnson said these teachers must be personally responsible for emptying them. We love it when teachers can help us out, the extra hands are much appreciated, said Johnson. She said the custodians empty about 32, 20-pound bins of recycling every week.

The school also has done composting for pre- and post-consumer food waste in the Clipper Cafe and Espresso Mia. Other than just food, this includes products like paper towels, paper bags, and napkins. The school has about 1,400 pounds of compost every week, said Johnson.

This school could do a lot better about being more environmentally aware, said Johnson. It would be great to get more students involved and have more resources to expand our program, she said, but unfortunately, environmental programs are one of the first programs to be cut in schools.

In 1989, the Waste Not Washington Act was passed by the Legislature. In response, Johnson explained how former SPSCC President Dr. Kenneth J. Minnaert signed off on a proclamation that enforced community colleges to have recycling programs.

At first all of us custodians were so invested and passionate about the program, said Johnson. The Committee for Recycling and Reducing Waste was formed to implement ideas laid out in the proposal.

She added that with all of the cuts in the last few years, the custodians have less time to invest in the recycling program with all the other priorities they have to attend to.

The Recycling Program tries to advertise themselves when they can by getting

involved in school activities. They took part in this year’s club fair and have always participated in the school’s Earth Day events, as well as doing demonstrations during SPSCC’s Chemistry Week on the science behind composting.