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Talking trash

With global warming now becoming a harsh reality in the eyes of many academics and former skeptics alike, some may be looking for a way to make an impact on what is being framed as an impending crisis. Recycling is a simple enough solution, but for USF residents, reducing and reusing is not as easy as one might think.

In 2005, 413 tons of materials from campus were recycled. Of that figure, 244 tons were picked up from the recycling center on Sycamore Drive. The University is paid $35 for each ton of paper it recycles and $25 per ton of other materials, according to Dot Monroe, program assistant for grounds vehicle maintenance and recycling. Monroe also said the University received $12,864 last year for the recycled paper alone.

That money is then put toward future recycling efforts. The Physical Plant recently purchased 100 recycling containers to add to the nearly 700 dispersed throughout campus. The containers cost $85 a piece and are for paper only.

While paper can be recycled in all of the major buildings on campus, the bins on Sycamore Drive next to the intramural fields are the only receptacles available to local residents looking to recycle anything else. This means that residents must not only be convinced to recycle in the first place, but also must then plan ahead to make a trip down to Sycamore Drive.

Lyndsey Scofield and Brenna Dixon, both members of the Student Environmental Association, noticed the problem during their first semester on campus and decided to take matters into their own hands.

“Last year we came on campus and we didn’t know what to do with our recycling. We would just keep it in our dorm rooms and bring it down to Sycamore,” said Scofield, a sophomore majoring in environmental science and policy.

They brought their concerns to the Student Government senate two weeks ago, outlining the problem with a slideshow and proposing solutions.

“We presented the idea that we wanted more on-campus recycling, and we went into details on how that could be accomplished and what the possible options were and which ones were most cost effective,” said Dixon, a sophomore majoring in creative writing.

Dixon and Scofield are focusing mainly on obtaining recycling bins for the residence halls on campus. In the past there were bins in the residence halls, but they were removed because residents were using them for trash. Various student groups have made efforts to combat the problem, but for the most part, they have failed. “About every two to three years a student group will step forward and say that they want to lead up this effort, recycling is something you need to stay on top of everyday,” said Director of Residence Services Tom Kane. “Routinely, we get a good group of kids, they really want to do this job, and by mid-semester they’re just too fed up with how people are disrespectful of what they’re trying to do that they give up.”

The problem breaks down to funding and logistics. Even if bins were to be put back into the residence halls, someone would have to transport the collected recycling to Sycamore Drive. Finding funding to support such an operation has proven difficult.

“Recycling does not pay for itself,” Kane said. “You’ve got to hire people just to do that. If (the Residence Hall Association) or Student Government said, ‘We’ll subsidize you and help you all pay for that,’ or, ‘We’ll allow you all to increase housing rates to hire another custodian or five custodians or 10 custodians,’ we’d do that. But nobody wants to pay that kind of money to have somebody haul garbage.”

The senate is open to potential solutions. Senate president Barclay Harless said he appreciated that Scofield and Dixon proposed solutions along with the problem. Harless also speculated that the senate would be open to funding solutions as well as working with Residence Services.

“Senate could very well back that. I mean, we would have to see the proposal,” Harless said. “The thing with Student Government, especially this year – we’re much more the mind set of, ‘If we want to do something, let’s find all possible venues of getting funds before we start looking at (Activity and Service fees),’ which is what the students pay for.”

With only one meeting left, the senate will have to wait until next semester to pursue a possible solution to the residence hall recycling issue.