WMU Recycling Efforts Raise Awareness

Caley McNamara

For 19 years, Recycling and Waste Reduction Service Manager Carolyn Noack has been working to promote recycling on Western Michigan University’s campus.

Between 1,500 to 1,800 paper recycling bins are currently in campus halls, Noack said.

Residence halls on campus have reduced its garbage by over 50 percent from the start to the end of the year by placing cardboard and Styrofoam in recycling bins.

WMU residence halls in the past three years have really stepped up their game, said Doug Carney, manager of facilities for the residence halls.

All dorms have recycling bins for students’ use where they can recycle paper, plastic and even Styrofoam.

The residence hall staff sifts through and sorts the recyclable material to make sure there is no cross contamination.

Cross contamination is a big concern, Noack said. If any garbage mixes in with the paper, or if there is Styrofoam with the plastic, the recycling centers will not accept the recyclables, counteracting all of the hard work done.

Carney and his staff work on recycling efforts in the dorms throughout the year; however when students move out is when many programs are put into place.

“At the end of the school year we do a program called Trash for Treasures,” said Carney. “We place large bins outside the residence halls to recycle food, electronics and furniture the students may not want and then donate them to the community.”

According to Carney, many of the dorms have been replacing old metal bed frames for new wooden ones.

“When finished, we send the scrap metal to a company who pays us for our recycled metal, making a cash inflow for the school,” Carney said.

Students who live off campus, such as Heather Jo Halifax a junior at WMU, said she is very thankful for the efforts the recycling teams make because recycling is not available to her at her apartment.

“So if I can throw a bottle away on campus, it makes me feel a little better,” Halifax said.

“Many off-campus student apartments do not have recycling programs, even though they are required to if they live in city limits,” Noack said. “It just became too difficult to sort through with the cross contamination.”

Halifax said that she and her roommates would make a bigger effort if it were available to them or if they knew where they could bring their recyclables.

Back on WMU’s campus, another recycling effort Noack is trying to implement in the future is one which has worked on many other college campuses such as the University of Washington.

The plan would include supplying tailgaters at football games with plastic bags which would specifically be used for recyclable materials.

“Events and athletic functions is where we need to focus our efforts, we need to improve opportunities for students to recycle,” Noack said.

“I think that it’s a great idea,” said Alex Kiel, a senior at WMU. “Using bags would be such an easy way to help students and other tailgaters clean up our own messes.”