The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Recycling options wasted

BEER CANS and pizza boxes. College campuses quite possibly may be the largest producers of recyclable material in the nation. Students use a vast amount of aluminum cans, plastic bottles, mixed paper, cardboard and glass bottles. Unfortunately, most of these are thrown away and eventually are laid to rest in a landfill, where they will sit and fester for hundreds of years.

This may seem like common knowledge, and everyone has heard the environmental benefits of recycling, yet many still don't do it. There are more positive aspects to recycling than just saving the environment; there are financial, University and community benefits as well. Because of the various benefits of recycling, students at the University need to increase their recycling habits. We are responsible adults who care about our community, so it is time to show it.

The environmental benefits of recycling have been drilled into students' ears ever since grade school. Recycling keeps waste from piling up in landfills and then taking eons to decompose. This problem is closer to home than many students might expect. According to Al Fioretti, office manager of UVA Recycling, "Virginia is the second largest importer of trash in the country." We house other people's trash in our landfills, on top of our own waste. It won't take long for this waste to build up, causing harmful environmental problems in our home state.

It's easy to reduce the waste problems. Fiorettio spoke of the possibilities of University recycling. A UVA Recycling study found that 70-75 percent of all waste produced by University students is recyclable. But only 40 percent currently is recycled. While this figure isn't as high as it ideally could be, it is among the top in the nation for universities. UVA Recycling has recycling bins in 85-90 percent of the buildings and residence areas on Grounds, which are maintained by student and community workers. Even students who live off Grounds can find bins easily, as they are located at the dining halls and in most academic buildings.

In addition to environmental benefits, recycling is good for the University financially. The University pays $38 for every ton of trash it takes to the landfill. By recycling more, the savings will pile up beneficially. Even greater savings can be found with University Hospital trash. As toxic waste is more expensive to dispose of, every ton of University Hospital trash kept from the dumpster is $500 in the University's pocket. If UVA Recycling were to corner the market in Charlottesville, they actually would be paid for turning in recyclable materials. But this money only will be available if students recycle regularly and habitually.

Recycling also benefits the community. UVA Recycling hires Charlottesville residents as full-time employees. Over the years, the company has grown from a small group in one building to a complex business in four buildings. As students continue to recycle more, UVA Recycling continues to expand, thus providing more job positions for both students and residents. Aside from helping to provide jobs at UVA Recycling, students can reduce the trash that the city as a whole produces, making it a cleaner and more environmentally friendly place to live.

Finally, recycling benefits even the laziest student. By saving three quarters of their waste for recycling, students can avoid the time-consuming task of taking out the trash. UVA Recycling accepts all aluminum cans --which University students empty faster than they can be filled -- and mixed paper, including class notes, reports you never want to see again, and old copies of The Cavalier Daily or The Washington Post. They also take plastics #1 and #2, such as laundry detergent and Coke bottles, all colors of glass bottles -- Heineken, Samuel Adams or Corona -- and the mother of all University student-produced waste, cardboard pizza boxes. Save these up. Reduce your trash collecting time. Get some extra rest.

With so many recycling bins, or "co-minglers" on Grounds, it's a wonder more students don't recycle. Apathy and busy schedules are surely problems, but the benefits should convince students to take five minutes out of their week to do something good for the environment, University, and community.

(Brandon Almond's column appears Tuesdays in The Cavalier Daily.)


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