RCT Trash/Recycling Receptacles

Summary: In the fall of 2013, the GEF approved a grant of $36,000 for the purchase of new waste receptacle stations as part of a pilot study to decrease contamination of recyclables on campus. The proposal was written by Bridget Flynn in the Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES) and the Resource Conservation Team (RCT), a student group on campus dedicated to reducing resource consumption at Oberlin College. The proposal was for 25 waste receptacles to be put in Fairchild Dormitory, the Science Center, and Philips Gym with the intent of further expansion if it proved to be an effective means of educating and clearing confusion regarding waste on campus.

Background Premise: Education of what is and isn’t recyclable on campus has proved to be a difficult problem to tackle considering the high turnover of students. The goal is to provide clear and consistent signage to waste collection on campus in hopes of reducing contamination of recyclables across campus. OES and the RCT have led multiple campaigns in an attempt to clear up recycling confusion on campus, and this is an ongoing effort to educate in hopes of changing campus culture regarding waste. The receptacles will have two receptacles, “landfill” and “recycling”, with the ability to expand if the city of Oberlin adds organic waste to their collection system in the future. 

Cost-Benefit Analysis: The total cost of purchasing and installing the 25 Max-R waste receptacles was $36,000. This pilot project will allow RCT to complete comparative waste audits in order to establish the effectiveness of side-by-side trash and recycling bins in one station for reducing contamination and increasing proper usage of recycling receptacles. If the waste audits show meaningful reductions in cross-contamination, the GEF would be interested in expanding the receptacles project to other areas of campus to reach more students and further the benefits.