OBU goes green, plans to recycle more

Sometimes, you need to throw your Chick-Fil-A trash away before class–and all the trash cans have suddenly disappeared.

by Payton Clark, Assistant News Editor

After a long summer and the addition of OBU’s most recent class, it is easy to see things on campus differently, especially when you need to throw your Chick-Fil-A trash away before class and all the trash cans have suddenly disappeared.

Alyssa Sperrazza/ The Bison 

In a continuation of SGA and Facilities Management’s GoGreen Initiative that started last fall, many outdoor trash cans were removed in order to make OBU more environmentally friendly. Last year, multiple bottle-filling stations and recycling bins were added in the first phase of the project.

“We hope that before the end of the school year students would start to be able to see things happening around campus,” George Haines, director of facilities management, said. “This semester we’ll be completing our analysis of the costs and what it’s going to take to implement the program regardless of where the funds come from, so hopefully by spring semester we’ll be able to start implementing what we want to do and start making some of those financial decisions that will start paying off for us.”

Last Nov., Facilities Management removed many exterior trash cans on campus. There were multiple reasons for this action, including litter across campus, old trash cans and extra time needed to complete the job of picking up trash.

“The cans would often get over full, and trash would blow around, making it more things for our crew to have to pick up,” Haines said.

“It was taking our grounds crew two hours every day to empty the trash cans, so they lose about 25 percent of their work day just emptying trash cans and relining them.”

Facilities management instead left exterior trash cans where there was food served or where people would sit outside and eat, like the east side of the GC, the RAWC and the picnic centers in the Village, and kept interior trash cans across campus for cleaner use.

“Most of the academic buildings and other places on campus have trash cans right as you walk into the door, so people have the opportunity to throw trash away there instead of leaving it outside where it could blow away and cause more of a problem,” Haines said. The dumpsters also became an issue.

According to Haines, Facilities Management started observing how full the dumpsters got and how frequently they were getting dumped, in order to eliminate dumpsters that weren’t needed and to increase cost efficiency.

“Based off of those observations we were able to eliminate five dumpsters and then change the pickup cycles for some of the others,” Haines said. “We’re trying to manage the exterior appearance of the campus by having the trash managed better by having less exterior cans and less dumpsters.”

Facilities Management is also conducting a study to determine if they could make their waste management even more environmentally friendly.

“We’re in the process of doing a study where we can look at the possibility of reducing even more dumpsters and being able to recycle more things, so that in the end we would be able to have no dumpsters and to compact all of the trash and send it to Covanta in Tulsa, where trash is burned for energy,” Haines said. Haines said that they’ve been looking at James Brown University, which is a zero landfill campus, as an example for what they hope to achieve. 

“A lot of it has to do with figuring out how do you get there from here, the cost effectiveness, how you staff being able to change the way you handle trash and being able to do more recycling, being able to move the trash and the resources needed to do all of that,” Haines said.

Another obstacle Haines said they have faced in implementing new things is the large startup cost needed to recycle things.

“We just have a few cans in the GC and in the common area that we started with and we’ve submitted a proposal to the Women of Vision with information about expanding the number of bottle filling stations and recycling containers around campus and how much that would cost,” Haines said. “They’ve asked us to send something because they will be meeting here later this month to come up with a project they want to support.”

Due to the difficulty of recycling specific things like plastic, Facilities management is considering newer recycling methods

“We may find that if we went to a system of single stream recycling like the City of Shawnee, you could put all cans, plastic and paper together and it would be a more effective way of recycling,” Haines said.

Haines said that the efforts to reduce waste is all part of the GoGreen Initiative that began last fall with the bottle filling stations and recycling bins in the Geiger Center.

“That whole thing was really started out of student government and their desire for students to expand recycling,” Haines said.

“We had some ideas on wanting to do that, but the student support has helped move things along.”

According to the OBU website, efforts like recycling at the end of year Move-Out as well as the addition of bottle filling stations and recycling bins can be seen across campus.

“[Hydration] stations are now located in the Geiger Center, Bailey Business Center, the Recreation and Wellness Center, Admissions and the Academic Center, Stavros Hall, the Lodge, and the facilities maintenance building, with future locations planned in the Mabee Learning Center and residence halls,” according to okbu.edu.

“Many employee offices already contain paper recycling bins, with plans underway to expand those in the future as well.” In the future, students can expect increased opportunities to recycle their trash around campus.

“The University plans to add a significant amount of recycling bins in the near future, expanding to other buildings around campus, including housing facilities,” okbu.edu said.

“The University also desires to reduce waste and landfill impact as much as possible, to be the best stewards of God’s creation and to protect His creation.” Facilities Management and SGA will soon meet to discuss the issue further.

“We haven’t met this semester with SGA, but I anticipate that it’s going to happen to provide an update and to figure out if there are any other ideas on the table that they would like us to bring forward with the new officers,” Haines said.

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