As the pressure to go green increases, the number of available staff needed to keep up continues to drop. Budget cuts have sliced a large portion of maintenance staff, limiting Santa Ana College’s ability to recycle.
This situation has made it all but impossible to implement a steady recycling program that can turn bottles into cash, said Ron Jones, interim-plant manager at SAC.
Several metal computer trays were found in a dumpster north of the C Building on Sept. 26.
The trays would have been worth 26 cents a pound at the Orange Coast Community College Recycling Center. It could have been sold to a scrap dealer as well.
Don Maus, risk manager at Rancho Santiago Community College District, said that SAC does have a location on campus where metal can be taken to be recycled.
“The diesel shop at SAC does have bins for metal to be placed in, which afterwards get sold to a scrap metal dealer,” Maus said.
While he cannot speak for the employees in charge of maintenance, Maus said he assumes they would take recyclable items out of dumpsters if they were visible.
“We obviously don’t have someone that’s going to go dumpster diving, but if it’s right at the top and somebody in maintenance saw it, I’m sure they would take it out,” Maus said.
Jones said making sure everything gets recycled is not as easy at it may sound because the steps require a lot of extra labor.
“Keeping track of recycling is really difficult and requires a lot of help. Right now we don’t have those kinds of resources,” Jones said.
Budget cuts have eaten away at maintenance staff, making it difficult to recycle more often.
Because recycling is a process, it creates more jobs than landfilling does. Collection, processing, manufacturing and selling recycling products all require more workers.
At SAC, different recycling programs are being practiced, all of which are designed to make SAC a greener, cleaner environment.
SAC’s paper-recycling program provides classrooms, offices, the school library and many other areas small, medium and large blue bins meant for the proper disposal of paper.
“The only time I remember to recycle on campus is when I’m in the library because the bins are more visible,” said SAC student Carla Cortes.
“The bins are usually provided to whomever requests them, but I’d say about 90 percent of most areas are covered,” Jones said.
He said if anyone is missing a bin and would like one, they could request one. The bins are emptied out every day and are picked up by the Paper Depot Company.
Maintenance staff also segregates green waste, including leaves, tree branches, and anything having to do with landscaping.
Maus is also in charge of making sure anything that cannot be put in a landfill, like ink cartridges, light bulbs and light tubes, gets properly recycled.
The college does not recycle bottles anymore. Outsiders would regularly rummage through the trash, leaving workers with nothing to collect.
“We used to have a few bins for bottles, but people would start taking the bottles out,” Jones said.
While the practice is illegal, it is not largely enforced. Scavengers are as much a part of the Quad as students and faculty, but the practice hurts SAC’s recycling efforts.
Around campus, students can spot trash cans in the Quad, but recycling is not convenient.
Jones says SAC facilities are currently looking into different companies to pick up campus recycling materials and is in the process of transition.
“At the moment we’re at the planning stage of revamping our recycling programs and strengthening them,” Jones said.