How Green is Berkeley?

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Recently, students have raised questions about Berkeley’s recycling program and its impact on campus. The added attention prompted the school to make huge strides to improve its recycling program. This past January, Berkeley partnered with Progressive Waste Services to establish a new recycling program.

Mike Steger, the Physical Plant Director on campus, explained that Berkeley is now using a “single stream recycling effort” in which all recyclables are collected together. With this program, there is no need for separate bins for different materials that students choose to recycle. The containers that exist on campus now will either be modified or replaced over the summer to accommodate this change. From these bins, the material is moved into a large container in the Physical Plant at Berkeley where it is collected and then transported to the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in St. Petersburg, where the materials are sorted and weighed. After this process, the materials will be converted and can be used again.

Since the program began, over one ton of materials has been collected each month and it is predicted that 12.3 tons (or 27,117 pounds) of recyclables will be collected annually, according to Steger. This number is expected to increase once the collection process becomes more streamlined and people become more aware of the program.

Still, based on totals from July 1, 2013 to April 14, 2014, hundreds of pounds of unrecyclable material, such as construction debris, will be produced annually. Steger stated that the Physical Plant staff will work closely with the contractor of the Gries Center for the Arts and Sciences to make sure they are recycling whenever possible during construction. Steger said he “would like to see us move to reduce our garbage output while increasing our recycle output, with the overall goal of reducing the amount of waste in general.”

Steger also wants to see a “strong awareness campaign toward the recycling effort” so that more people will get involved to help recycle and save the planet.He encourages students to recycle whenever possible.

Sophomore Layla Ghiai said that she already recycles as much as she can and that this new program will encourage her to recycle more, due to its greater ease. Ghiai said recycling is “very good for the environment because it prevents landfills.” Her message to the world: “recycle to save animals!”

With this new program, it will be much easier to recycle around campus and hopefully more students and teachers will put in the effort to recycle as much as possible. With the combined support from the students and faculty, the new program will hopefully be successful.

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