PAC’s recycling #1 in district

By Chelsea Victoria Moran
Pulse Staff Reporter

IMG_0882Throwing used materials into the garbage may not seem like a big deal but, when 80 percent of what we’re trashing is recyclable, it’s a major issue.

From January through December 2016, Palo Alto College had the highest recycling rate amongst the Alamo Colleges. PAC managed to rescue 65,840 pounds of recyclable materials, giving the campus a recycling rate of 19 percent.

“We’re so proud of the PAC family and our volunteers for their efforts in promoting recycling,” said Dr. Mike Flores, president of Palo Alto College.

St. Philip’s had the second highest rate at 16 percent. San Antonio College had the third at 13 percent, and Northwest Vista the fourth with 9 percent. Northeast Lakeview’s recycling rate is unknown because they use a different vendor.

The recycling rate is calculated by adding the the pounds of trash collected in a given month to the pounds of recyclables to get the total waste stream. The recyclables are then divided by the total waste stream to get the recycling rate.

Although these percentages are better than zero, a greater effort needs be made because city officials have set a 60 percent recycling rate as the goal for 2025, according to Dr. Denise Barkis Richter, recycling coordinator.

Here at Palo Alto College, recycling has been a priority since 2009. Each building on campus has faculty and staff volunteers along with work-study students who help with PAC’s recycling program.

Twenty-three gallon green recycling bins are located in every building on campus. These CMoran2bins are meant for empty plastic, empty metal and empty glass. Grey bins are specifically designated for paper. Cardboard should be flattened and placed to the side of the grey bins.

Not recycling has a negative impact on the environment, including the contamination of our land and water supply, air pollution, and an increase in the effects of global warming, according to NASA’s website.

One of the issues with recycling is not just that enough people are not doing it, it is that we are doing it incorrectly. Items that are not recyclable are constantly being found in the recycle bins, and items that could easily be recycled are being thrown in the trash.

Recycling contamination occurs when actual trash mixes with recyclable items and cannot be separated. According to Ecocycle, some of the biggest mistakes leading to contamination can be fixed: do not leave recyclable items in non-recyclable bags and make sure all containers are empty and clean.

The next time you throw something away, take a look at the labels on the product. They will indicate whether the item should be recycled or thrown in the trash. With the effort of every student, faculty and staff member on campus, PAC will be able to reach that 60 percent recycling rate by 2025.


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