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Recycling can be defined as the process through which used materials otherwise commonly referred to as waste is reprocessed into new products with the objective of minimizing the potential waste of valuable resources. Recycling helps to reduce the waste of useful materials, manage the use of new raw materials, minimize the consumption of energy, and manage air and water pollution. This is achieved through minimizing the use of conventional trash disposal, and reducing emissions from greenhouses. Recycling is a core component of modern waste management, and falls third under the waste management hierarchy of ‘‘Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle’’. The benefits of recycling are far reaching; recycling does not only reduce and minimize the waste and use of virgin natural resources. It is also a critical component in the preservation and conservation of natural resources, and aides in the sustainable management of the environment for the current and future generations (Willcox, pp.5-6).
How to improve recycling on campus
The benefits of recycling waste in universities go beyond the financial aspects. Universities with effective recycling programs that coincide with environmental conservation programs usually attract research funding, create a good public image or brand, enjoy good public relations with its clientele and surrounding community and attract or draw donations, faculty staff and students. Institutions of higher learning have to set a precedence that will be followed by business enterprises, community and government. Universities have to conduct researches on the possible environmentally friendly and economic methods of recycling waste materials. The university needs to allocate more funds for the purpose of establishing a recycling center within the university to handle all recyclable waste generated within its premises.
As currently constituted the number of individuals actively involved in the recycling program is very low compared to the total population around the campus. The personnel comprised of 15 students, six interns and campus employees are not sufficient to cover all areas of the campus. Universities are similar to large companies; they have many departments which produce different kinds of waste. The university should carryout awareness programs to educate the students and staff on the need of recycling waste products. Recycling needs to start from each department where several recycle bins can be placed, each for a specific kind of waste. This will reduce the amount of time spent in sorting out waste to be recycled. Trash cans or bins should be clearly labeled, where it is for organic, plastic or metal waste to avoid mixing of recyclable waste (Willcox, pp.9-10).
In this modern age of technology the campus administration should embrace new forms of information communications that do not require the use of papers which form the bulk of waste around the campus precinct. The current use of traditional notice boards which require the use of paper notices pinned on notice boards pose a threat to the cleanliness of the university. After the expiry of the notice or posters they have to be removed to pave way for new posters and notices. This recurrent cycle generates a lot of paper waste around campus. The university should consider making use of emails and mobile phone short messaging service to disseminate information and communicate their position to the staff and students. Official documents such as memos, newsletters and notices can be sent to individual personal emails. It has been noted that social media sites are the new revolution in information communication technology. In fact the influence of social media sites has been credited with the recent political revolutions in the Middle East and Arab countries such as Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Tunisia. Most of this social media sites such as Facebook, twitter and YouTube have been interlinked, this means one can use any one of them to send communication, and there is no need of registering in all of them. If the university was to invest in electronic billboards and notice boards such as the ones used in commodity advertising, it will go along way in reducing the amount of waste paper that is generated around the campus. In the long term it will significantly reduce financial cost related to acquisition of stationery and printing costs.
How to improve the diversion rate
When joining the program the diversion rate was at about 40% but currently we can boost of a diversion rate of 80%. There is still room for improvement and adequate steps must be taken to ensure that we attain at least 100% diversion rate. Some of these steps should include offering of incentives and cash prizes to the department s which are able to collect the highest quantity of recyclable materials from their departments. The university administration can also come up with annual, monthly and weekly social events that may include collection of waste and trash. These events can be organized in form of group, department of faculty competitions. The winning groups can be awarded with incentives such as scholarships for their members or subsidies in relation to other university fees. These will create more awareness and encourage more people to join and take part in recycling activities.
For sustainable conservation and management of the environment for the current and future generation, universities have to take the lead in developing recycling programs. Awareness and knowledge need to be communicated to the society, there is no other better way of achieving, but establishing recycling programs within institutions of higher learning.
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