Convenience with recycling is one of the major challenges Longwood University faces for sustainability, according to Jennifer Carlson, assistant coordinator for the office for sustainability.
“Recycling is definitely a challenge,” said Carlson. “Convenience is the biggest challenge.”
According to Carlson, students living in main campus residence halls have access to recycling in their buildings, “For main campus students there should be a recycling station of just about every floor of every residence hall, as well as a station set up in academic buildings around campus, and the blue recycling bins scattered throughout campus as well.”
Per Jean Wilwohl, director of housing, ”There are recycling containers in the residence halls. Our staff will educate students on what goes in what”.
Carlson said students may also directly bring their recycling to the on-campus recycling center located next to Longwood Printing Services.
The Office for Sustainability has received complaints from students living in Lancer Park and the Longwood Village concerning overfilling and the inconvenience of the current bins.
“We’ve heard things from all apartment communities,” Carlson said. “They’d like it (recycling access) to be on their floor and more convenient but we’re just limited with resources.”
Carlson said that at Lancer Park, there are small recycling bins available inside the clubhouse.
“I know there’s issues about them becoming too full,” said Carlson.
“We do have the containers within our facilities," Wilwohl said. “I would say plastic, paper and glass.”
There are no large single-stream recycling bins at Lancer Park at this time, per Carlson.
“We’d have to purchase the bins, students would have to sort it properly and they don’t do a good job of it now,” Carlson said. “Then it’s a lot of extra work for GCA to do the sorting later…We do offer, it’s not as convenient as we’d like it to be, it’s not on every floor…they can bring it straight to the recycling center.”
At the Longwood Village there are also six-slot small bins for recycling,
“I know there’s also been issues with overfilling there,” said Carlson. “But students, we’d like to empower them. If there’s an issue with overflowing they can also email firstname.lastname@example.org if the bins are full.”
According to Carlson, students may briefly park at the recycling center to unload their recycling.
Longwood's recycling materials are handled by GCA services.
“It gets taken out by GCA and then goes to the recycling center where it stays until it gets full,” Carlson said. “Then it’s taken to a warehouse on Third Street, and it sits there for a while until there becomes enough of it and sometimes until there’s a better market value for the commodity itself.”
In addition to the recycling, Longwood has several other programs to increase its sustainability.
“The dining hall composts…All the food waste goes through a pulper that they have and then landscape and grounds picks it up Monday through Friday,” said Carlson.
Longwood University also supports a biomass plant that sources sawdust from timber companies "with a radius of 11 miles around us", per Carlson.
Another initiative that the Office for Sustainability does is the “Drop and swap” program at the end of the year.
“We do a drop and swap program at the end of the year where there’s big cardboard bins placed in central locations in each apartment community and residence hall,” said Carlson.
Students are encouraged to leave items they do not want in the bins. Other students may take the items and the leftovers are donated to local charities. The Office for Sustainability also employs several students.
"We currently have five eco-reps, as they are called, we’ll have six next year... It’s kind of their jobs to be liaisons for student populations as well as various offices on campus,” said Carlson.
Educating students on appropriate recyclables is an ongoing challenge.
“It’s not a one and done kind of thing, you can’t just do it and it’s over because new students are always coming in,” said Carlson.
Carlson noted that another challenge Longwood is addressing is efficient energy usage.
“One of the big things in the future is going to be energy usage,” Carlson said. “In the future, I think there will be more emphasis on that…about ways we can be more sustainable as far as out energy usage.”
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