Recycling Accessibility on Albion’s Campus

Outside Ferguson, from left to right, three single-stream Granger recycling bins, a cardboard-only Granger recycling bin and a dumpster. These are a few of the many disposal options available on Albion's campus (Photo by Rhiannon Slotnick).

While Albion College provides avenues for recycling through various cans and bins placed around campus, that doesn’t mean recycling is easily accessible for all students.

23 out of 62 buildings on Albion’s main campus have at least one kind of recycling bin outside. The only residence building that has all three types of recycling available nearby is Wesley Hall.

Ella Hardwick, Seattle junior, comes from an area where residents are required to maintain compost bins alongside their trash and recycling containers. At Albion, she lives in the Burns Apartments, where there are no recycling bins nearby.

“Typically, I’ll have a box from a package and I just put anything that is recyclable in there and then carry it across campus,” Hardwick said.

Hardwick added it was “a bit of a culture shock” that recycling wasn’t more prominent at Albion, and that few students knew about how to do it properly.

A map of the recycling bins placed throughout Albion’s campus, by type. This map does not include the Dow, or houses and apartments outside of Albion’s main campus (Illustration by Bonnie Lord).

There are three different styles of recycling bins around campus, which according to Albion’s website, allow for different uses.

The yellow-lid bins are single-stream recycling, which according to Granger Waste Service’s website, means all recyclables, paper and plastic alike, are discarded in a single bin. The blue cans are for returnables, like cans or bottles. The dumpster-style recycling bins vary, with some accepting only cardboard and some being single-stream.

Director of Grounds John Hibbs said the college has had to “scale back” on recycling bins, resulting in the removal of multiple bins from campus over the last three years. Hibbs said this was because of contamination in the recycling containers, which comes from non-recyclable items that contain food, grease or other substances.

When a container is contaminated, Hibbs said Grounds employees then have to take the time to remove the contamination before the recycling can be picked up. He added that Granger Waste Services, Albion’s waste management provider, charges the college a fee to pick up outside of their regularly scheduled pick-up days.

“We have to continuously modify our approach based on how cooperative the staff, faculty and students are on campus,” Hibbs said.

Hibbs added that to properly recycle at Albion, there needs to be group cooperation.

“What we hope to happen is that people take the extra few seconds to rinse out their containers and make sure there’s nothing stuck to them,” Hibbs said.

Bags filled with shredded paper inside a cardboard-only recycling bin outside Ferguson. One of the core issues that Grounds encounters is students and staff not using recycling bins correctly (Photo by Rhiannon Slotnick).

The Center for Sustainability and the Environment (CSE) has taken action to educate staff and students on how to properly recycle.

Anaka McCoy, Jackson junior, has been a part of CSE since her first year at Albion College. Last year, she worked on a sustainability project championing recycling through the creation of instructional posters.

McCoy said the posters describe what kinds of items can be discarded in what containers, because not everything can be recycled, such as certain plastics and cardboard.

McCoy said the posters made during this project are being updated to spread awareness about recycling.

“We’re going to put them up as educational information, so people can get better at recycling,” McCoy said.

Last semester, McCoy said CSE also helped the Eat Shop switch to more compostable cups, boxes and cutlery.

In addition to these efforts, Hibbs said since August of 2022, Grounds has run a program for first-year students during their orientation week, including a presentation on how to properly recycle.

“Once you get that initial baseline idea when you first arrive on campus, you kinda maintain that your other four years,” Hibbs said. “I think that it’s helping.”

Outside the Mae Harrison Karro Residential Village, six yellow-lid recycling bins are lined up in front of a wooden fence containing a dumpster. The Mae is one of few residence buildings on Albion’s main campus that has single-stream recycling bins nearby (Photo by Rhiannon Slotnick).

Bonnie Lord also contributed reporting to this story.

About Rhiannon Slotnick 28 Articles
Rhiannon Slotnick is a Junior from Detroit, Michigan. She is double majoring in English Literature Creative Writing and Sociology. She enjoys putting words on to paper for both work and for personal pleasure. If she's not writing, you can find her reading a book or stargazing around campus. You can contact her at rms15@albion.edu

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