University Recycling Brings Multiple Benefits

Posted: November 7, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Lynn Burke

The recycling efforts at George Mason are not only beneficial from ecological and aesthetic standpoints, but from an economic standpoint as well. In 2001, recycling saved the university almost $389,000 in trash disposal fees and brought in more than $11,000 in revenue.

The program began in July 1989 with five buildings on the Quad, two carts, and one worker. Now, George Mason’s Recycling and Waste Management Department’s activities have grown to cover all three campuses with 14 workers. Ron Lim, the department’s director, credits his predecessor, Sheri Stewart, who left the university in 2000, with the program’s growth, which now includes waste management on the Fairfax Campus.

Also to be credited with the program’s success is its hard-working crew of 11 mildly to moderately disabled, high-functioning men and women from the Northern Virginia Training Center, group homes, and other programs in the area. The program gives the workers a more visible form of employment than is traditional for this population, explains Lim. “They are proud of what they do; they like what they do,” he says. This fact is reflected in their low absentee rate-most of his workers go two to three months without missing a day of work.

Bill Morris and Cheryl Swift, job coaches from the Northern Virginia Training Center, and Wiredu Adada and Greg Edwards, job coaches from Job Discovery Inc., oversee the workers as they make their rounds. In addition, the program has two full-time classified George Mason employees: Philip Boyd, who helps with trash collection, and Ron Baxter, an operations manager in charge of bulk recycling.

The amount of recyclables the program pulls from the waste stream is pretty impressive. Through its efforts, the program recycles almost 40 percent of the university’s trash, and according to Lim, that amount exceeds the state mandate. Along with 2,170 pounds of aluminum, 66,080 pounds of newspaper, and 157,500 pounds of office paper, the program last year also recycled glass, plastic, toner cartridges, cooking grease, asphalt, automotive tires and batteries, yard debris, and other material.

Lim says that the campus community can help in the recycling effort simply by using the recycling receptacles as they are labeled and not using them for trash. Equally as important, he says, is that trash should be put in trash receptacles.

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