HU Steps Up Recycling, Opens New Center to Community
New Mexico Highlands University has stepped up its on-campus recycling with a new recycling drop-off center that opened Oct. 27 and a recycling sorting station at the center that was completed Nov. 17.
The recycling drop-off center is also open to the public to bring aluminum, mixed paper, cardboard, plastic and glass to recycle. The center is at 9th and Reynolds, west of the university’s Wilson Complex and behind the tennis courts parking lot. It’s open 24/7.
The slogan for the university’s recycling program is, â€˜Powered by Aluminum.’ Aluminum generates revenue, which helps with recycling hauling costs.
“Expanding our recycling program is another of Highlands University’s many green initiatives, and opening the recycling drop-off center to the public is part of our ongoing effort to open our campus more to the broader community,” said Bill Taylor, vice president for finance and administration.
“This new Highlands recycling center will help the community be more aware about recycling,” said Cordia Sammeth of Las Vegas as she dropped off a recycling load Nov. 19. “It’s so neat, clean, and well kept. I’m thrilled it’s here.”
In August 2009, the university initiated a recycling program, purchasing 34 three-bin recycling carts for buildings throughout the main campus. The carts make it easy to separate recyclables into the right container, with green for aluminum, red for plastic, and blue for mixed paper. The university also placed 100 blue bins for paper in computer labs and copy rooms.
Media arts student Ben Jeremiah got the recycling program off the ground in 2009 with the help of Facility Services.
Currently, 80 more bins for recycling glass and paper are being placed in buildings around campus.
“People on our campus are extremely motivated to recycle and the recycling bins were filling up so fast we had to add more,” said Ira Harge, Jr., who started working for the university’s Facilities Services Division in August as the part-time recycling program manager.
“The campus community was also bringing items from home to recycle, adding to the volume,” said Jorden Grimm, capital projects operations manager for Facility Services. “The demand was so high that we opened the recycling drop-off center.”
Harge said local interest in recycling is growing.
“It’s exciting to see so many entities coming together with the same goal of increasing recycling,” Harge said. “The university is collaborating with the City of Las Vegas, San Miguel County, and the United World College. We’ll have the best success by working together.”
On Nov. 13, the university and the City of Las Vegas joined forces for a community recycling day at the university’s recycling center in celebration of America Recycles Day.
“Highlands University is showing leadership in recycling in our area, and what the university already has in place is a good model,” said San Miguel County Manager Les Montoya. “I think the county may be able to use some of the same techniques and strategies, applying them to what we want to accomplish with recycling countywide.”
Harge is working to secure funding from corporate sponsors to help fund the university’s recycling program. Community First Bank is the first to pledge support, donating $2,500 that paid for signage for the drop-off center and materials for the center’s covered sorting station. Facilities Services staff built the station.
Grimm said it’s important that recyclables be sorted because recycling plants reject loads where materials are mixed. For example, an entire load of plastic can be sent to the landfill if it contains any paper.
The university accepts plastics 1 and 2, like water and soft drink bottles, and milks jugs. Nearly every plastic with a neck is accepted, along with other plastic containers. When in doubt, flip over the plastic and look for the recycling symbol on the bottom with the number inside.
Junior forestry major Matt Guzman is the paid work-study student who empties the recycling bins around campus each week, sorting them in his truck before hauling the materials to the university’s recycling drop-off center.
“We’re trying to avoid contamination of materials,” Guzman said.
“Matt is a tireless, hard worker and absolutely dedicated to the cause of recycling,” Harge said. “He’s doing a great job.”
Harge is working with the Highlands University Sustainability Club, Sustainable Las Vegas Club, and the United World College — USA to recruit additional volunteers for the university’s recycling program.
Donations to the university’s recycling program are welcome. Those interested in either donating or volunteering may contact Harge at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Highlands University Recycling Program is one of numerous green projects initiated on campus over the last several years. The university’s residence hall that opened fall semester 2009 is the first in the state to achieve LEED Silver certification, a high-level measure of green building practices and sustainability.