Steps toward a low-impact campus

Concrete recycling bins, Big Belly receptacles, trash cans – there are many spots around campus to dispose of waste, but it can be difficult to categorize which items should and shouldn’t be recycled. 

As it is becoming increasingly important to be environmentally conscious, it can be daunting to keep up with the ever-changing standards of sustainability. 

At Cal Poly Pomona, the Office of Sustainability is working to make the process more streamlined with the campus community.

Toward the end of 2018, Sustainability Coordinator Monika Kamboures worked with former Associated Students, Inc. President Jenny Greenberg to increase recycling and the number of receptacles throughout campus. They started by conducting an audit to determine how many recycling bins were located on campus.

“We had 13 [recycling bins] when we started the audit,” Kamboures said. 

Items that students can recycle in the blue bins include paper, cardboard, glass bottles, aluminum cans, magazines, newspaper and shredded paper. (Lauren Bruno | The Poly Post)

Today, the school boasts around 80 concrete recycling bins as well as Big Belly recycling bins, which can be found all around campus. They also implemented pairing recycling bins with trash bins so they are easier to locate. 

According to Facilities Planning and Management’s Commingled Recycling Program, recycling bins on campus are designated for items such as paper, cardboard, empty plastic and glass bottles, empty aluminum cans, magazines, newspapers, catalogs, books and shredded paper that has been bagged. 

Items that should not be recycled in these bins are Styrofoam, food items, wet trash, broken glass, used napkins and restroom trash.  

Krista Anderson, a third-year business student, expressed concern about the prevalence of this information when she encountered a recent dilemma. 

“The other day, I had a glass bottle [to throw away] and I didn’t know where to put it.”

The Office of Sustainability is taking steps to resolve concerns such as Anderson’s by adding signage to the recycling bins to show what can be discarded in them. 

Many of the Big Belly recycling bins on campus currently have these depictions.

“Our focus is standardizing recycling and making it easier for students to know what’s recyclable,” Kamboures said.  

While CPP is working toward becoming a more sustainable campus and promoting recycling, there are still areas that could be improved upon. 

Fifth-year biology student Tiffany Bowles said, “[The school] could definitely advertise that we have specific recycling bins we can use that shouldn’t be contaminated with other trash. It’s really important in the environment that we’re living in that we recycle as much as we can.”

CPP will also be participating in the removal of single-use plastics in compliance with a recent initiative implemented by the California State University (CSU) system. 

In 2018, the CSU system announced the objective, which includes the elimination of plastic bags and straws in 2019, Styrofoam in 2021 and plastic water bottles in 2023 across each of the 23 state universities. 

According to the CSU website, all campuses shall “replace single-use plastic items with materials that are reusable, locally compostable and/or recyclable.” 

Kamboures confirmed that CPP is implementing these new standards. 

According to a recent announcement from CPP Foundation Inc. and the office of Aaron Neilson, director of Foundation Dining Services, “Cal Poly Pomona Foundation Dining Services has eliminated the use of plastic straws on campus.” 

As an alternative, dining locations will offer plant-based straws, and metal reusable straws will be available for purchase in campus convenience stores. 

According to CPP’s website, “We’ve increased our landfill diversion rate from 19 percent in 2002 to 67 percent in 2015. Our new goal is to increase CPP’s rate of waste diverted from landfill to 75 percent.” 

For recycling facts and tips on how to reduce waste, visit https://www.cpp.edu/~fpm/fm/logistics/index.shtml.

For more information about what CPP is doing to promote environmental sustainability, visit https://www.cpp.edu/~sustainability/mission-and-vision/index.shtml.

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