Zero Waste Policy Implementation Sloppy

Although the University implemented its new Zero Landfill Waste policy in an attempt to go green, the policy’s execution has been less than satisfactory.

Last month on behalf of Campus Services and Emory’s Office of Sustainability, standardized color-coded recycling, composting and waste stations were installed on Emory property. Desk-side waste bins vanished from University offices and classrooms, and “a new team of waste specialists has been created to remove collection at central locations,” according to a University YouTube video released last November.

While the Zero Landfill Waste policy was a necessary step considering the University’s commitment to sustainability, a walk around Clairmont Campus or the Atlanta campus residence halls reveals festering bags of trash stacked atop the new recycling stations. To ensure that recycling and composting receptacles aren’t cross-contaminated and that the campus is hygienic, the University must ensure that landfill trash bins are both available and emptied in a timely fashion.

The recycling bins placed in rooms in Emory residence halls are no longer consistent with larger bins located throughout the rest of campus. Student residence hall rooms are furnished with a blue bin, in which students are expected to dispose of all their recyclable materials — most students choose to purchase a separate landfill bin for personal use. But waste facility rooms within residence halls contain bins for paper, mixed paper, compost, plastics and landfill. It is unrealistic to expect students to separate their waste into these five categories while only having one or two bins for private use.

Clairmont Campus’ policy implementation is no better, as four-bedroom apartments, for example, are provided with a single recycling bin and expected to use a communal trash chute and public recycling bins. Future programs for Clairmont by Campus Services and Emory’s Office of Sustainability — such as new bins in the Undergraduate Residential Center (URC) and Clairmont Residential Center (CRC) parking decks and the construction of a new recycling room in the main level of Clairmont Tower — sound promising but have yet to be completed.

It is not ridiculous to expect students to separate their recycling from landfill waste in residence halls and to use the appropriate receptacle elsewhere on campus. But this first month of implementation has proven to require more effort than the average busy student should be expected to exert. The University should take action to make separated recycling and composting more straightforward.

We commend the University’s Zero Landfill Waste policy for its intention, but like much of campus these days, the policy’s execution thus far has been sloppy.

The above Editorial represents the consensus opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.

The editorial board is composed of Nora Elmubarak,  Andrew Kliewer, Madeline Lutwyche, Isabeth Mendoza, Boris Niyonzima, Shreya Pabbaraju, Isaiah Sirois and Mathew Sperling. 

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