UA Resolution on Outdoor Recycling

September 24, 2000

The presence of recycling receptacles in key outdoor campus venues is a matter of importance for University students, a top priority of the Undergraduate Assembly, and a quality of life issue in the broadest sense. According to the Division of Facilities Services, the turnover of recyclable materials at the University skyrocketed from 75 tons in 1989 to 1500 tons in 1992, earning an award from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. However, statistics published by Facilities Services indicate that the University's recycling program has stagnated in recent years. In 1998 and 1999, the University recycled 26% of its waste by weight, failing short of the 30% mark that was achieved circa 1996.

Presently, receptacles for recycling paper products are completely absent from key outdoor campus venues. In addition, technological advances have allowed for a greater degree of commingling of recyclable waste, and the University has not yet responded by deploying commingled-recycling receptacles throughout the campus. Commingled receptacles would be less intrusive than the large "igloos" that are presently used for aluminum, glass, and plastic recycling. Commingled receptacles could help make recycling a more integrated part of Penn's campus.

Last spring, the Penn Environmental Group (PEG) published an assessment of recycling at the University in which 60% of the students surveyed said they "throw out recyclables because there are no bins nearby" "very often" or "often." In addition, 75% of students said that Penn does not encourage them to recycle. These results indicate that University students are not consistently recycling because of a lack of convenient recycling facilities. The evidence suggests that University students believe in recycling, but their efforts to recycle are hindered by the absence of convenient, highly visible recycling receptacles. To repeat a quotation printed in the PEG report, "If a recycling bin were there, I'd do it."

As one of the country's premiere universities, the University of Pennsylvania should have one of the country's premiere recycling programs. University employees have noted that Penn does not have a single, centralized recycling program, but rather a matrix of recycling initiatives. The Undergraduate Assembly, by virtue of its established relationships with multiple facets of the University community, is in a unique position to advance the interests of undergraduate students within this highly decentralized framework.

Therefore, we, the Undergraduate Assembly, the elected representatives of the undergraduate student body, do hereby resolve:

Resolved: The University should deploy and maintain both commingled and paper-recycling receptacles within close proximity of trash receptacles in heavily trafficked campus venues, including Locust Walk and the Perelman Quadrangle.

Resolved: The University's outdoor recycling receptacles should be durable, visible, easily accessible, and clearly labeled.

Resolved: Recyclable waste should be hauled as needed to ensure that recycling receptacles do not overflow.

Resolved: A central office or point person should provide timely and adequate responses to individual students who wish to report difficulties while attempting to dispose of recyclable waste on the outdoor campus.

Resolved: Provisions for recycling should be incorporated into any new University facilities that have provisions for trash disposal.

Resolved: The Undergraduate Assembly, the Division of Facilities Services, and the Penn Environmental Group should continue to work together to improve the accessibility of recycling facilities, and to monitor recycling initiatives that are in place at the University.


Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 7, October 10, 2000

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