College committed to recycling despite eyewitness accounts to contrary
By Sandy Watkins
Janitors at Georgia Highlands College are consistently throwing away recyclables with the regular garbage according to eyewitness accounts from faculty and staff.
Doug Webb, physical plant director, said, "If this is going on, I'm not aware of it. Not one person has reported this to me. I'm completely accessible by email. If the faculty and staff don't report a problem to me, I can't do anything about it. As far as I'm concerned, we are and will continue to follow Georgia Highlands College's policy to recycle."
When the custodial staff empties the containers, they visually inspect the containers for contaminants. If there are food remnants, liquids or unsorted wastes mixed in with the recyclables the whole container is dumped with the garbage because the recyclable waste becomes unusable.
Nikki Estes, a nursing major from Rome, said, "I'm not really sure which can is for what in the classrooms, and I might have put things in the wrong one on the way out." Estes added, "I didn't know the recycling helped the student emergency fund. I think that more people would recycle if they knew. I know I will do more if it helps supply the fund."
"I didn't know about it. I think recycling for the fund is a good idea. I will do more to recycle if it will help the student fund," said Mike Jones, a business major from Adairsville.
Not all of the college's recycling efforts go toward the student emergency fund. Webb said that because Rome Recycling picks up the paper products twice weekly, no profits are received from paper, which is the largest volume of recyclable materials from Georgia Highlands College.
Wayne Harrison, facility inventory analyst at Floyd, takes the plastic and aluminum can recyclables to the recycling center for the student emergency fund. Harrison said, "I really do it to keep the stuff out of the landfill. Truthfully, we get almost nothing for it, less than half a penny a pound. I've taken truckloads of cans for less than 20 dollars. It's almost costing more to do it than we make off of it. I do it because it's the right thing to do for the environment."
The dark trash cans in the classrooms are repositories for garbage. The blue cans in the classrooms are for recyclable paper only. Green receptacles in the major hallways are labeled for plastic bottles. Adjacent to those are companion receptacles for aluminum cans.
"Education is the key to successful recycling. Students and staff need to keep recyclables separate. It only takes one person's carelessness to contaminate an entire receptacle. When this happens, the custodial staff has no choice but to dump the container into the garbage," said Webb.