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Volume 71, Issue 135, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

News

New leadership merges UH Recycling

Program improvements include better record keeping, 
taking down departmental barriers

by RACHAEL SEELEY
The Daily Cougar

This is the third article in a four-part series examining theUH Recycling program. Tomorrow, Part 4 will examine the success of the UH recycling program today.

Oversight of the UH Recycling Program was scattered across three departments until September of 2005 when it was placed under the jurisdiction of Johnnie King in the Building Maintenance Department. 

King, the Supervisor of Solid Waste and Recycling, is doing his best to improve the program by keeping detailed records of the weight of recyclables sold by UH and the income they generate. 

Buyers were entrusted to weigh the materials themselves and report back to the University before King took over. 

"Before I got involved in it ... we didn't know how much we were sending in because we had no way of weighing it," King said. "We had to go by what (the buyers) said. But now, I've changed it ... I have records on how much we send and how much we get back and everything." 

King said UH made $4,873.95 from office mix paper products -- envelopes with windows or labels, fax paper and mail -- from September to December of 2005. 

At current office mix prices of about $35 a ton, that is about 140 tons of recycled paper or 13 fewer landfill trips -- a direct savings of $2,185 in dumping costs to the University. 

Though UH President Jay Gogue said he supports the program, he said there are no plans underway to create a new Recycling and Conservation Committee. 

"The University is engaged in many activities that are worthwhile. It is difficult to find the resources and volunteers for a committee on each," Gogue said in an e-mail. 

Gogue said the recycling program has become a standard part of University practices and is part of an overall conservation effort, which, last year, expanded to include recycling hazardous chemicals, batteries and waste oil. 

The program also now shares a $308,000 annual budget with waste management, he said. 

Though former Recycling and Conservation Committee Chairman Stephen Barth said the shared budget is a step in the right direction, he would still like to see a committee formed to provide the campus community with information. 

"Today you could promote it easily via e-mail," Barth said. 

He would also like to see a clear recycling policy developed for auxiliary programs, some of which he said generated resistance to earlier recycling efforts. 

"When the program became successful, they began to want to keep their own recyclables and generate the revenue for their own recycling, which, of course, decreased the overall impact that we could have had on the University, collectively," Barth said. 

"We could be a leader in this easily, but we have to break down some of the resistance barriers to departmental and auxiliary territorialism."

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