by Gloria Bacci
For the past six months, Ryerson has worked to revitalize its recycling and garbage disposal program, and now it’s time for students to pitch in.
This week the university’s recycling committee, the Green Team, will launch a campaign to promote the use of new “three-point” recycling units. These receptacles, located throughout campus, are outfitted with separate chutes for newspaper, glass and plastic drinking bottles, and garbage.
Ryerson’s revamped program took effect last March, when Turtle Island Recycling Corporation beat out two competitors vying for the university’s recycling and waste management contract.
“Turtle Island came out with a better presentation and a better direction,” said Adrian Williams, manager of Custodial Services.
Ryerson’s recycling program has been expanded to include such items as fluorescent light bulbs, broken glass, old computers, furniture, batteries, contaminated cardboard and glossy pamphlets and brochures.
The Green Team is in the process of organizing annual recycling days, during which students can recycle their larger items for free.
A pilot project with a garbage compactor is also underway. The compactor, located at 60 Gould St., services Kerr Hall and the Student Campus Centre. Not only does it cut down on the number of weekly garbage pick-ups, but it is also tidier and less smelly.
Currently, about 40 per cent of Ryerson’s total waste is recyclable. Williams would like to see that increased to 60 per cent.
“We’re keen to make it work, we’ve got to make it work,” he said. “We have to include the whole community — that’s what we’re aiming for.
“If students can take stewardship of their areas, that would be brilliant,” said Williams. “There’s nothing worse than coming into a classroom and finding that someone has left a pop can or pizza box on your desk.”
Vince Solmito, a custodian at Ryerson for nearly 14 years, said not all students have been quick to adopt recycling.
“Some kids don’t care,” he said. “Some, good kids, they just don’t know.”
Solmito frequently sees students tossing recyclables into the trash bin. When he reminds students not to throw away items like pop cans or plastic bottles, they are often receptive and end up recycling the item.
Students are not the only offenders of improper waste disposal, notes Solmito.
“You should go over to 111 Bond. I went there and I was so disappointed,” he said, referring to the use of recycling receptacles in the Campus Planning and Facilities building.
Jordan Edmonds is a member the Green Team and the Ryerson Initiative for Sustainability and the Environment (RISE) — a student group devoted to making Ryerson a more sustainable campus. He said administrative support is key to achieving this goal.
“If they’re ready to make this work, it has to be from the top down,” he said. “The administration has to get much more serious about waste management and recycling. They haven’t been doing enough in the past, and they’re starting to engage in it now, and we commend them 100 per cent.”
Edmonds thinks the university is off to a great start, but he and his RISE colleagues want to make sure Ryerson goes “all the way.”
“(The administration has) to understand that really educating the community is as important as having a waste management system.”
Ryerson Students’ Union Vice-President Education Nora Loreto agrees that the university is on the right track.
“I think the fact that they’re taking steps in the direction of curbing waste is good,” she said. “It’ll be our role to hold their toes to the flame and make sure they carry through.”
Ryerson will get a status report on its recycling practices in October when Turtle Island completes its first campus waste audit.