By Steven Ho
The recycling department’s efforts to make City College greener has helped to generate money for the college, however, problems have held up its progress.
Recycling Coordinator Carlita Martinez said the department is recycling bottles and cans as part of a pilot program, which will help determine if it is cost effective for the college.
The recycling department recently obtained a California Redemption Value (CRV) certificate from CalRecycle, which allows City College to sell bottles and cans in large quantities.
Ocean Campus currently produces over 25 tons of recyclables monthly, which has the potential to generate approximately $5,000 per month, according to Martinez.
Once the recyclables in the blue bin are collected, staff members have to separate the different types of materials like plastic 1 (PET), plastic 2 (HDPE), and aluminum.
After the separation process, plastics and aluminum are sold to rePLANET and other CRV redemption centers in San Francisco.
The money received from CRV goes into the college’s general fund.
Compostables collected in the green bins are sent to Recology’s compost facilities in Vacaville, California for processing.
City College is receiving a lower bill from Recology for its services, because the college is reducing waste by composting and recycling more.
The recycling program currently operates throughout the San Francisco Community College District. However, Martinez believes that there could be improvements to the program.
Martinez hopes to hire more student workers when the college decides to expand the program.
There are several internal and external factors affecting the recycling program.
Martinez said that one of the problems is that “poachers” are taking bottles and cans from bins around the college.
It is unclear how much money is being lost, because the problem has not been evaluated as the program has only recently started.
“We started with locked containers, and we found it more problematic, because people would break the lock,” Martinez said.
Martinez added that there would be too many keys with the amount of staff and number of bins.
Campus police and the San Francisco Police Department have been enforcing San Francisco health code section 293.1, which states that it is illegal for anyone other than a city employees to remove recyclable material, to fight the problem. There has been a decrease in the number of “poachers,” but the problem continues to exist.
Many students at City College are not from the San Francisco Bay Area, where recycling is common. People may come from another state or country where they do not recycle.
Some students at City College are not aware of the differences between the black, blue, and green bins. “We find bottles in the trash and compost bins,” Martinez said.
Recycling staff have to pull out aluminum and plastic from the compostable bin because “it contaminates the compost. Compost is very sensitive and can only contain organic waste,” Martinez said.
Informing people about the importance of recycling “is an ongoing educational process,” Martinez said.