Those sandstone-colored bins you see at MU are the latest in a campus recycling effort.
Campus Facilities distributed 50 recycling bins on campus during the week of Feb. 14. The bins can hold aluminum or steel cans, glass and plastic bottles.
“We do have a recycling program on campus, but we had not had a provision for beverage containers,” said Phil Shocklee, assistant director for Campus Facilities. “That was an area we needed to address with the purchase and placement of these containers.”
The bins are outdoors in high-pedestrian-traffic areas such as Francis Quadrangle. Although many recycling bins are blue, Shocklee said he chose sandstone for its visual appeal.
“We felt that aesthetically, (sandstone) would be more pleasing,” he said. “We didn’t really feel it had to be the bright-blue color to draw attention to it.”
Student requests, faculty interests and a petition sponsored by Sustain Mizzou, a student environmental organization, brought forth the issue of increased recycling last year, Sustain Mizzou President Jared Cole said. Shocklee decided to purchase the recycling bins in response to the student and faculty concerns.
Shocklee submitted a request to the Student Fee Capital Improvement Committee to pay for the bins, which cost about $100 each. The committee agreed to fund the containers at the end of last school year.
Cole said the containers were scheduled to be placed on campus in October, but problems with the catalog order postponed the process. The color of the labeling on the cans also caused delays.
“The label that they put on it was almost clear, and it had white writing on it,” Cole said. “You couldn’t see it from five feet away.”
New black labels had to be ordered. Sustain Mizzou put the labels on the cans before Campus Facilities placed on the bins on campus.
Beverage container recycling at MU had not been an issue before because of a city beverage container deposit ordinance, Shocklee said. The city of Columbia used to run a five-cent deposit program for beverage containers.
“People kept the recyclables and returned them for the five-cent deposit, and that would become their department’s doughnut fund or coffee fund,” Shocklee said. “When that ordinance was repealed, we never had a system in place to recycle beverage containers because it was never an issue.”
The new recycling bins are part of an overall waste-reduction effort. In 2003, MU had a solid-waste audit to access the university’s waste output. A fact sheet from Sustain Mizzou and MU Environmental Services states the audit found that, on average, almost 1,600 tons of recyclables are thrown away as trash every year. This makes up about 27 percent of the university’s 5,886 tons of total trash each year.
Shocklee said the audit report recommended hiring a solid-waste and recycling coordinator to oversee the volume of solid waste at MU. The coordinator would also look for ways to reduce the solid waste volume while trying to increase recycling.
“The university is larger than some cities that actually have someone in this capacity,” Shocklee said.
Sustain Mizzou supported hiring a recycling coordinator as well. A Sustain Mizzou recycling report states that in 2003, 10 percent of MU students signed a petition in support of creating the position.
Campus Facilities hired Darus Love in December for the position. A grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources helps pay his salary.
“I want to target students when they first get here, to have something initiated to educate them immediately,” Love said.
Making sure students do not throw trash into the bins and contaminate the recyclables will be particularly challenging, Love said. Other waste can ruin recyclables and prevent them from being reused.
Shocklee said the beverage container program has been going well so far, and he has seen little contamination.
“I just looked in (a bin), and it was one-third to one-half full, and it had virtually no contamination,” Shocklee said.