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Recycling at Skempton

Jan 12 2007 13:46
Shane Donatello
An explanation of recycling facilities in Skempton.
The oft contaminated recycle bin in the Airport Lounge

As the new environmental officer for Civsoc and a self-confessed recycling freak I would like to take this opportunity to explain the current recycling system here in the Skempton building. Maybe 'system' is the wrong word, but in any case after some fine detective work from fellow recycling freak Barbara and myself, here is the low-down.

1. Paper

Currently many offices have small blue bins, often accompanied with a recycling logo and a ?waste paper only? note attached. Every Thursday the cleaners come around and empty these bins into a green sack which is then taken to the recycling containers in the Mechanical Engineering building. The cleaners do not have the time to sit and sift through the various wastes that end up in these bins and if they are contaminated with other wastes they will simply bung it all in a black bag ? which will end up in your local landfill or incinerator. The cleaners have a strict policy on paper and ONLY accept office paper, they currently consider newspapers, magazines and cardboard as contamination and will consign this to black bags.

Disheartened, I decided to look into this a little further, wondering why only office paper can be accepted when so many people have the capability to recycle newspapers and even magazines and junk mail. So Barbara and I spoke with the cleaning manager, she explained the system very clearly and showed us the recycling bins in Mechanical Engineering, they are not located for public access and require a cleaner to let you into the area. I had a look into the paper bin, which was labelled paper and cardboard to see that there was in fact cardboard, newspapers and office paper all mixed in the same bin. What was going on? Were other people contaminating the bin or were our own cleaners being extra selective with paper recycling?? A phone call to Westminster council (whose logos are blazed across the collection bins) revealed that they do indeed accept papers, magazines, cardboard, white phone directories and even junk mail with the envelopes. Check the website if you want to be sure.

2. Glass

There are two or maybe three strategically located glass recycling bins in the entire building. To my knowledge there is one in the airport lounge and one in the coffee room on level 4. These are not the responsibility of the cleaning staff to empty however. Since the majority of glass is produced by the catering events it is actually the catering staff who fill and empty the bins. Students are welcome to dispose of glass in these very clearly marked ?glass only? bins and all colours can be used ? the glass must be going to be used in road construction ? to make the cunningly named ?glassphalt? product. However some students may be misunderstanding the philosophy of glass recycling as there is honestly no need for teabags, plastic drinks cups or tangarines (yes, bloody tangarines!) in the making of ?glassphalt? ? only glass bottles or jars without caps or lids respectively in the ?glass only? labelled bins please!

3. Plastic bottles/cans

The mysterious recycling label

There are around five recycling bins located in the airport lounge on level 2, the mess room on level 2 and the coffee rooms on levels 4 and 6 that accept the items shown to the right only.

Yes, I was confused as well, is this a recycling bin or is did some judging panel seriously screw up choosing a winner for designs to be emblazoned on their recycling bins?

Again if you consult the Westminster council website you will see that they accept the following items in these types of bins;

  • Plastic bottles (with lids removed)
  • Food tins (ideally washed out ? lids can be included if metal)
  • Aluminium and steel drinks cans (ideally crushed to save space)

And equally importantly they do NOT accept aluminium foil, Tetra-paks, plastic films, crisp and sweet packets and yoghurt pots or margarine tubs.

If you want more recycling bins in the building you only have to do two things;

1. Contact John Grover ? the estates manager - and say so; or

2. Phone extension 48000 ? the estates service helpdesk ? and say so again.

At least this is the theory, according to the university?s own recycling policy.

However, in my limited experience I have been waiting for 3 weeks and counting for new bins.

I hope that you are now a bit better informed about the CURRENT recycling policy and I am hoping to get the Green Team involved in ensuring that the recycling bins are better labelled in future. Also in future recycling policies we are going to pay attention to those troublesome coffee cups, Tetra-paks, printer cartridges, mobile phones and IT equipment. If you have any ideas or opinions on recycling in the Skempton building I would be pleased to hear from you.

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