JC implements recyling program on campusWhile the city of Jamestown has temporarily put off efforts to discuss possibly moving forward with curbside recycling until next year, Jamestown College has moved its own efforts to the forefront by implementing a campus-wide recycling program.
While the city of Jamestown has temporarily put off efforts to discuss possibly moving forward with curbside recycling until next year, Jamestown College has moved its own efforts to the forefront by implementing a campus-wide recycling program.
Ideas for the program started swirling following a JC marketing class’s spring 2010 survey of 1,200 Jamestown residents. The survey found 97 percent wanted to see a residential recycling program and 75 percent said they would be willing to pay $4 or more per month for such a program.
In addition, a pilot recycling program was completed that spring by a JC leadership class.
“Recycling bins were distributed throughout all different parts of Jamestown and had about 120 homes involved in the program,” said Joan Morris, co-chair of the now disbanded Jamestown Recycling Task Force.
Following the pilot program, an additional survey was completed by those who participated, which found that 97 percent wanted to see a permanent residential recycling program and 65 percent said they would be willing to pay $4 or more per month for such a program.
“There were people calling the college asking to be a part of this program. People even stopped some of these students while they were working, asking ‘Where are our bins?’” Morris said
Since then, JC has moved ahead with its own campus-wide recycling program.
At the start of the fall 2011 semester, the Environmentally Concerned Organization of Students, purchased $2,000 worth of recycling bins to place in the student center and classroom buildings around campus.
Members of ECOS, in addition to JC athletes, sorted four to eight bags of recyclables each week in the basement of Voorhees chapel, according to Michelle Solensky, faculty director of ECOS.
About $3,000 worth of additional recycling bins were then purchased for the residence halls on campus as well. Director of Residence Life Lori Listopad said the bins have had a tremendous impact.
“It’s been an exciting addition to our residence halls. We have large collection containers in each hall and so far many of the students have been on board,” she said.
With more recyclables being placed into containers at the residence halls, it became an overwhelming workload for the ECOS.
“Eventually we just couldn’t keep up with the volume,” Solensky said.
The JC administration, led by college President Bob Badal and Vice President for Business Affairs Tom Heck, ultimately saw its struggles and committed the college to financially support a recycling program on the JC campus, Solensky said.
“Some cost falls on ECOS, some on the college itself,” Heck said. “What we did was realign some duties within our janitorial staff. They collect the recyclables along with the regular garbage and then our maintenance staff takes it uptown to the recycling center.”
Heck said it has been a fairly seamless transition for the staff and almost all of the buildings on campus, including all residence halls, now have recycling containers.
“There have been bits of pieces of recycling for a couple of years now, but this program started in the fall and really jumped off campus-wide this spring semester,” Heck said.
The progress on campus has been very noticeable, according to students like sophomore biology major Matthew Dean.
“When I got here as a freshman, there was one big, blue bin in a couple locations on campus,” said Dean, who is also the student president of ECOS. “I’ve now seen firsthand how much it has helped the campus. In fact, I see many people throwing out more into recycling bins than putting in the regular trash.”
Listopad said the college’s long-term goal is to eventually have small receptacles in each dorm room as well as larger receptacles in every building on campus.
Future of recycling
Is the Jamestown College recycling program a potential model that could be used by the city of Jamestown?
“If the college can do this, I think the community can do it too,” Listopad said.
Heck said implementing a similar program citywide would depend on a number of factors.
“You would have to have a lot of cooperation from the city, homeowners and businesses,” he said. “It’s going to depend on how it’s organized and of course how it gets paid for.”
Jamestown City Council members have noticed the support for such a program for Jamestown.
“Judging from what we’ve heard from people in the city, there’s clearly a desire in this community to recycle,” said Charlie Kourajian, City Council member.
He said cost seems to be the No. 1 issue holding up its implementation in Jamestown.
“It’s all going to come down to the money,” Kourajian said. “It’s certainly not a dead issue and it has a lot of possibilities, but it’s the financial factors which are the biggest thing.”
In a September 2011, Jamestown Chamber of Commerce regional issues meeting, city officials said the sanitary sewer system is strained and that’s why the city staff doesn’t have time to implement a recycling program.
City Administrator Jeff Fuchs said that still remains the case today, as the city is currently in the process of making sanitary sewer system and water system upgrades.
City Engineer Reed Schwartzkopf said these types of infrastructure issues within any city are more pressing than implementing a new recycling program, but it is not being put on the backburner.
“Trust me — it doesn’t mean we’re ignoring recycling. It’s still going forward,” Schwartzkopf said.
The issue of working on implementation of a curbside recycling program in Jamestown is part of the city’s 2013 strategic plan.
City Council member Ken Schulz said he recognized that some residents wish it would move ahead sooner rather than later.
“There may be some people who would like it to be a higher priority and be done more quickly, but the fact is that it is on the list as part of the city’s strategic plan and will be done,” he said.
But although the city considers the sanitary sewer system a crisis, the Jamestown Recycling Task Force believes the city’s landfill might also reach a crisis mode soon.
According to a January 2012 study the task force conducted with the North Dakota Department of Health, the Jamestown landfill will run out of room in six years at the current volume.
This would follow a state trend of a decreasing number of landfills as 20 years ago there were more than 100 open landfills in North Dakota while today there are 14.
The study estimated that approximately 34 to 40 percent of items currently going to the landfill could be recycled.
“Our hands are tied at this point,” said Joan Ritter, former task force co-chair. “There’s really not much more we can do for now.”
Fuchs said concerns that curbside recycling in Jamestown is a dead issue are incorrect.
“It’s on the City Council’s strategic plan for a reason. We’re hopeful that later this summer we can get started on some preliminary work for it,” he said.
Schwartzkopf agreed, but like Kourajian, he said it’s an issue of time as well as finances.
“Personally I would love no more than to see a recycling program here, but professionally we have to look at the dollars and cents of this issue,” Schwartzkopf said. “It will get done, but much like other programs in the city, we have to be patient as it will take some time.”
The city would also like to conduct a solid waste study prior to implementing anything, which Schwartzkopf said would include preliminary discussions about the logistics of how a curbside recycling program could work in Jamestown.
According to the Division of Waste Management of the North Dakota Department of Health, there are 16 curbside pick-up recycling programs and 38 drop-off recycling programs in the state, with Jamestown included in the latter.
The Jamestown Recycling Center, operated by Renaissance Recycling, allows Jamestown residents to properly dispose of standard recyclables such as cans, bottles and cardboard.
The center receives a $5,000 subsidy each month from the city of Jamestown.
The center is open three days a week: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays.
Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.