“It’s important and it helps reduce our waste stream, and we don’t want all that stuff going into the landfills if it can be recycled,” Warner said.
For almost ten years, Ferris State has been offering recycling services to all bulldogs on campus to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in a landfill.
Jeff Warner, the manager of custodial services, says recycling began in 2013 when they brought in their first recycle containers on campus, the large units found behind most residential and academic buildings.
“They were just trying to start the process because prior to that we didn’t have recycling, and it blossomed out of the move-in and move-out days,” Warner said. “We ended up getting so many recyclable products. Students buy new things and they obviously bring their stuff in boxes and of course, those get discarded. So, versus just casting all that stuff into the waste stream we wanted to try to capture it in recycling.”
At the time this began, recycling was only done by individual groups and offices intermittently, instead of the university as a whole.
According to Warner, Jerry Scoby, the former Vice President of Administration and Finance, was the driving force behind getting the university to collectively begin recycling.
In 2015 the Sustainability Task Force was created to ensure the whole campus had an equal opportunity to recycle.
One year later the STF became a standing committee on campus becoming the Environmental Sustainability Task Force with the focus of developing “a set of practical, intentional, efficient and low-cost ways the university can be better stewards of resources and the environment.”
According to their sustainability draft report of 2016, the committee had 16 faculty members from all departments ranging from the marketing department to the provosts’ office, including the residence hall association.
Jennifer Johnson, a Professor of geography and current chair of the social and behavioral sciences department, was encouraged by the efforts the committee was doing and joined the team.
“We spent some time talking about goals for the university,” Johnson said. “We did a lot of outreach, we cataloged a lot of what was already happening on campus. What we found is there’s actually a lot more happening with sustainability mindedness on campus than we realized, it’s just happening at very small levels and in individual offices and programs.”
With the establishment of the committee and realizing there was more of a sustainability mindset developing on campus, the group was able to bring in more recycling bins to be brought in and spread out throughout campus.
Outside academic and residential buildings are large recycling units, which were strategically placed according to Warner, with each hall, room, and building having its own smaller, blue recycling bin inside.
With these bins there are plastic bags inside collecting the recyclables, however, Warner assures students that even the bag can be recycled.
“That particular form of plastic that we use is a first-used style plastic,” Warner said. “A lot of plastic bags that you’ll see are already recycled material therefore they can’t be recycled again. The bags that we’re using are basically virgin plastics, so they can be recycled.”
Warner gave the example of Walmart and Meijer plastic bags to compare, stating the store bags were made of recycled materials that can not be accepted on campus.
Johnson says the custodial services, and Warner, in particular, have worked hard to make sure students and staff have access to these recycling bins no matter where they are on campus.
“They have just been amazing at the transition and taking on that little bit of extra work of taking both trash and recycling,” Johnson said. “We just really want to give them praise and thanks. They are the magic that makes it happen.”
While recycling on campus may seem spread out, and at times hard to find, the committee and custodial staff are here to help make recycling easier for everyone to be more green.
“Jeff has always been extremely willing to help us add additional bins if we know of places that need them,” Johnson said. “Students can always communicate with me as a representative of the ESTF or they can ask Jeff if there are things that we can do to make it clever or easier.”
Students can learn what can and cannot be recycled on campus by the labels on the sides of the blue bins, and find where their nearest recycling bin is by going to the campus recycle map.
For more information or answers to questions, students can head to the recycle services website or contact custodial services.