April 17, 2007

Greg Gordon Associate Director, Physical Plant (229) 333-5887

VSU and Valdosta collaborate on Recycling Efforts

VALDOSTA - Valdosta State University and the city of Valdosta are working together on a new recycling initiative and the first load of recyclable paper was taken from the designated site just before noon Monday, April 16.

President Ronald Zaccari, Mayor John Fretti and other VSU and city representatives joined together in celebration of the event that marks yet another university effort to improve the environment. Valdosta State University is in the process of reviewing and approving a comprehensive environmental policy that defines the University’s commitment to environmental stewardship, while providing cohesive and realistic guidelines for implementation. This recycling initiative is one of the items addressed in this policy.

“VSU’s Environmental policy assists the campus in addressing current needs and developing long-range plans to secure environmental sustainability for future generations,” Ronald M. Zaccari, president of VSU, said. “As a leading higher education institution in South Georgia, VSU is responsible for providing knowledge and resources necessary to promote environmental awareness within our community and region.”

According to Greg Gordon, associate director of the VSU Physical Plant, members of the VSU community displayed a strong interest in a viable recycling program during fall semester of 2006. Students Against Violating the Environment (SAVE) was the leading student organization to promote recycling. Its members showed interest in establishing a recycling program that could be implemented university-wide, and Gordon was instrumental in finding the appropriate channels.

His first priority was to find an entity that would accept recyclable waste. He contacted John Whitehead, Director of Public Works for the city of Valdosta and together they established a plan that would utilize the city’s on-going recycling program to support a program at VSU.

According to Whitehead, the city of Valdosta is capable of sorting mixed paper, newspaper, clean cardboard and mixed cardboard. Additionally, they use a “single stream” approach to other recyclables like aluminum, plastics, metal cans, glass, etc. These materials are shipped to a vendor who extracts desirable materials. VSU is attempting to develop a program that complements the city’s recycling operation and since early February, the following actions have been taken.

VSU established a recycling center at the Toombs Street entrance to the Bursary drive-thru. The city donated a “sway car,” or large trailer for holding waste, to aid the recycling effort. After only one month, the car was filled with paper and removed during the Monday event with many local stakeholders present. Also at the recycling center are barrels for use by S.A.V.E. members to further sort material collected in the dormitories.

Two student assistants have been hired to work as a “Recycling Crew” on campus. They have been provided with a vehicle and work vests that identify them as they service academic buildings. According to Gordon, additional personnel may be hired as the program develops.

Whitehead is willing to donate a dumpster for use in collecting cardboard items, which will be the next addition to collection reciprocals. In addition, VSU has ordered more than $29,000 in recycling containers for use throughout the campus as well as a dedicated vehicle, specifically intended for recycling use. Containers should be in place within the next several months and the vehicle should be in operation by fall semester 2007.

The recycling program is a result of active participation from students, student organizations like SAVE, faculty and staff as well as a positive collaboration between the VSU community and the city of Valdosta.

While VSU’s physical plant has the responsibility for organizing the logistics of the recycling program, an important ingredient is customer participation. This program will be successful if everyone works together to create an atmosphere where recycling is encouraged.

According to Gordon, the recyclable material cannot be contaminated with food wastes, waxy coatings, plastic wrappings, etc. Material that is contaminated cannot be separated and cleaned; it is discarded as waste.

“VSU will rely on students and student organizations, faculty and staff to educate our community and make recycling an accepted and expected norm,” Gordon said.

The recycling program along with other VSU efforts, including the pending adoption of a new Environmental Policy and upcoming SAVE earth day festival, are important ways the university and its members are promoting environmental protection. Contact Gordon, (229) 333-5887, for more information about the recycling program and other environmental programs.