University Dorm Recycling Programs
Fri, 22 Jan 1999 16:14:22 -0500

Hello Chris:

One strategy for getting the administrators on board is to show them
how your plan has the potential to cut costs. Many campus programs
with dedicated, well-intentioned people like yourself have failed to
get off the ground because not all of the benefits have been
communicated to the decision makers. Without this communication, the
administrators will look for excuses not to implement the program,
and in some cases the relationship between the student group and
administrators can get down right adversarial.

Here are some suggestions, based on successful campus programs:
(1) Perform a waste audit in the dorms. A waste audit, or assessment,
is an investigation into the flow of materials going through the
building(s). Look at what enters the building, how it gets used, and
what wastes are generated (Note: an outside recycler may be able to
perform this service for you ---- see (5)). (2) Think about the
potential for waste reduction or reuse for each waste generation
point (remember, waste reduction and reuse take priority over
recycling). (3) For the waste that remains, what is the potential
for recycling? (4) Review the logistics of how waste is presently
handled by the janitorial staff. (5) Find out who the waste hauler
is and look into their pricing structure. Is there a dumpster rental
fee? Is there a charge each time a dumpster is "pulled," regardless
of how full it is? Your waste reduction and recycling plan will lead
to less waste requiring disposal. You may be able to reduce the
number of dumpsters or the frequency of pick up. Check and see what
the contract terms are with the waste hauler. (6) Does the present
hauler provide recycling services? If so, ask them to provide
details on their program. Bring competition into the picture. Call
the waste reduction/recycling coordinator (or lead waste management
person) at your City (normally found within the public works
department). Ask for contact information on all companies providing
recycling services for businesses and institutions. Review the
services provided by these folks. Many times they will perform a
waste assessment for you. Look for the company that can provide you
the service that best fits your needs at least cost.

The commodity prices for recyclables vary over time, and some, such
as paper, can be quite volatile. The return on a recycling program
to you, the generator, can sometimes be positive and sometimes be
negative (negotiations with the recycler can reduce some of the risk).
However, the net cost of a program that includes waste reduction,
recycling, and disposal will almost always be less than a program
that is purely disposal based, regardless of the price for
recyclables. By doing your research and carrying out the steps above,
you will make sure that the savings are realized by you, and not
lost to someone else's profit. With this, you will get the
administrators' attention, and they will stop making excuses like
"the paper will be a fire hazard" (if you think about it, the paper
is there, whether it gets recycled or not), and start being your

Good luck and let me know how things progress. And remember.....
simply collecting recyclables is not recycling. We all need to close
the loop by buying products with recycled content. "Buying Recycled"
can be thought of as an insurance policy for your recycling
collection program.

David B. Reynolds
1160-C N Golden Springs Dr
Diamond Bar, CA 91765