September 28, 2022

Capital University recycling practices raise concern

Capital University’s recycling practices have been called into question over the years, with rumors circulating that the recyclables end up in the trash and vice versa. 

According to a 2019 article, the average American generates around 4.5 pounds of waste daily, and of that, 1.5 pounds is recycled.

At least one recycling bin can be found in most buildings on campus, and multiple bins are placed outside as well. 

According to Capital’s sustainability page, “Capital is leading a sustainable lifestyle for our community by maintaining clean air, natural resources, and non-toxic environment.”

There is also an article published by Capital titled “Recycle Tips” linked on this page, discussing how to correctly recycle on Capital’s campus. 

Capital promotes recycling even more on the sustainability Instagram account @capusustains

Throughout the years, rumors have circulated that Capital mixes the trash and recyclables together; essentially meaning that the recyclables do not get recycled. 

A professor with an office in the Convergent Media Center contacted the Chimes claiming that recyclables are not being handled properly. 

“I’ve noticed about a year ago that the housekeeping person for my building would [consistently] put the trash and recycling in the same trash bag…” the source said. “I’ve noticed it this semester too.”

Ashley Harvey, a Capital sustainability intern, explained that students throwing trash into the recycling bin is a big reason for this issue. If trash is thrown in the recycling bin, the recycling bin’s contents can no longer be recycled. 

“So you hear a lot on campus that we don’t recycle, and people will talk about ‘Oh, well I see housekeepers putting their trash and putting my recycling into the same thing as the trash’,” Harvey said. “It’s because… if it’s (contents of recycling bin) not clean or dry or if it has trash in it, it is immediately contaminated.”

According to Harvey, Capital’s housekeepers get to make the decision on whether or not the recycling bin’s contents are going into the trash. 

“It’s (contaminated recyclables) a really big issue for us and the recycling company so we do give our housekeepers control over whether or not they think that it is trash or not,” Harvey said. 

Katherine Freeland, event coordinator for CapGreen, gave her insight on Capital’s current system of recycling. 

“I don’t think it’s sustainable or efficient. I do think unfortunately that… it is purely for the aesthetics and to just be like, ‘Oh, we’re trying to do something’,” Freeland said. 

Freeland suggests that more communication and transparency regarding recycling could help fix some of these issues.

“I do think the sustainability department or even just like… the Capital communications that you get the emails from like every single week, if somebody like higher-up at Capital sent out an email or just like reminders through the official Capital University account [we could improve the amount being properly recycled],” Freeland said. 

Freeland believes the responsibility to improve Capital’s recycling is in the hands of students. 

“[Students] need to start throwing away recyclables properly… we cannot, like, hold our poorly paid staff [responsible], that responsibility should not lie on them to have to go through the trash bags.”

Hopefully, with students and staff working together, Capital’s recycling practices will be improved in the future. 

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