Recycling pilot project comes to Queen's

Every year, Queen’s manages 13 metric tonnes of polystyrene materials and 1.1 million coffee cups. These are now recyclable.
Every year, Queen’s manages 13 metric tonnes of polystyrene materials and 1.1 million coffee cups. These are now recyclable.

Alyssa Chin said although she wants to be environmentally friendly, her recycling habits are very limited on Queen’s campus.

“I feel the only places I’ve ever really seen a recycling bin is … in the food area of Mac-Corry and Lazy [Scholar],” Chin, ArtSci ’12, said. “I find it hard to even try to recycle on campus.”

As a citizen of Toronto and an off-campus employee, Chin said she’s used to having adequate access to recycling bins. Queen’s, she said, needs to catch up.

Chin takes the bus to work and said she’s noticed the bus stop where she gets on has a large bin with separate compartments for recycling.

“Maybe Queen’s is shifting to that, but they are behind the times,” she said.

Recycling on campus will now expand to include the 1.1 million coffee cups and 13 metric tonnes of polystyrene previously sent to landfills each year.

The initiative was launched Oct. 1. Materials including coffee cups, lids and Styrofoam can now be put in bins designated on campus for cans, glass and plastics.

Materials like food wrappers, food-stained cardboard and detergent or chemical containers cannot be recycled.

Adam DiSimine, AMS commissioner of the environment and sustainability, said the waste management situation at Queen’s isn’t perfect yet.

“There is room for improvement. There’s an unfortunate situation where, if there’s ever cross-contamination, then recycling becomes a little impossible,” DiSimine, ArtSci ’11, said. “Working to address that issue would probably be the next step.”

Recycling is easy, but it’s a matter of making it accessible for students, DiSimine said.

“People are going to be less likely to recycle if they have to walk to three different buildings,” he said. “Our job should be to make recycling as easy as possible for them, and to really encourage them to do it.”

Llynwen Osborne, waste coordinator at Physical Plant Services, told the Journal via email that the new initiative has been introduced to offer another waste diversion opportunity for the University.

An increase has been applied to the Queen’s recycling fees, but Osborne said she can’t release any numbers.

“It’s hoped that campus users who aren’t using reusable mugs will consider recycling one-time use or to-go coffee cups that they’re purchasing from campus food retail vendors rather than adding them to the waste stream,” she said.

On-campus vendor Tim Horton’s will give a 10-cent discount on their beverages served in travel containers.

The program is reliant on cooperation from students and other campus users, Osborne said.

“If everyone takes a moment to think about what the appropriate stream is for an item and then disposes of it or recycles it accordingly, then the diversion programs work,” she said.

Osborne said individuals as well as student groups, like the AMS, the Society of Graduate and Professional Students and Main Campus Residence Council, have been involved in the planning stages in the past year.

“I’m hoping to collaborate with these students about ways to reach out to the student population,” she said.

Osborne said Physical Plant Services is always investigating new diversion options.

“One area of opportunity we’re currently exploring is expanding our organics diversion program to include some staff lounge areas and front-of-house retail food spaces,” she said.

— With files from Savoula Stylianou

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