A controversy over who should be maintaining the recycling bins at Saunders Hall has resulted in plans to move the bins to another location by the end of the semester.
“I am amazed that our student fees do not cover enough manpower to take care of the school’s recycling,” said Maggie McCain, a graduate student in geography who contacted Ka Leo when she heard that the bins might be removed because they had become a burden on the custodial staff. “I’d rather have recycling than a leisure center,” she said.
Harry Partika, systems manager for the College of Social Sciences, raised the alert recently when he received a request from custodial staff that the bins be removed. He said that the bins often overflow, and people complain about them being an eyesore. It then falls on the custodial crew to clean them up.
Partika sent out an email asking for a volunteer group to take care of the recycling bins. “I just don’t know if there’s someone in the building who had intended or wants to take over where the other group left off,” he said in a phone interview.
AN ‘ABANDONED’ PROJECT
According to Shanah Trevenna, a board member of Sustainable UH, who was heavily involved with Sustainable Saunders when it first started, the recycling bins were put in place six years ago and were managed by student interns for the Sustainable Saunders group. She said she is not sure who has been managing the bins since she moved to Sustainable UH in 2008 and the Saunders program came under the direction of David Nixon, an associate professor of public policy and administration, who could not be reached for comment.
Director of Buildings and Grounds Management Roxanne Adams said that the custodial staff has been taking care of the recycling bins since around 2008. “It was a student group that adopted that area … they just abandoned it … and that was Sustainable Saunders,” she said in a phone interview.
Alex Broner, a former president of Sustainable UH, said that he did not know who was managing the bins during his time as president. He added that the organization is in flux as old members graduate, which could explain some of the confusion.
At least one of the custodial staff has been injured trying to take the recycling bins to the street. “When the bin is heavy with paper, to make it down the sidewalk … to the road is very, very difficult,” said Adams. The injured custodian blew out a knee.
Adams also reported that misuse of the bins is rampant. Passersby often throw food waste into the bins, or put recycling items into the wrong areas.
Because of these problems, Adams has decided to move the recycling bins to the Queen Lili‘uokalani Center for Student Services. A few will be left at Saunders, but placed farther back past the elevators.
When asked whether moving the bins to a less prominent spot would deter recycling, Adams responded, “I think we all need to pay closer attention to what happens to trash. I have three bins out in my garage; it’s not in sight, but I still recycle.”
Malia Stewart, an incoming co-president of Sustainable UH said, “This issue has just recently come to our attention, but we at [Sustainable] UH are committed to working with the people who help maintain Saunders Hall to find a solution ... Ideally, I think we should have a school-wide recycling program. This is an issue we hope to address next semester.”