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Sustainability Committee takes recycling forward

 

November 13, 2013

Lindsay Brown

Jedrick Shatz, left, and Wesley Lundberg collect recyclables from around the Montana State University-Northern campus Friday morning.

Joe Vernon, the sustainability coordinator at Montana State University-Northern, has taken the recycling program to an advanced level.

"I work with a couple of other students," Vernon said. "One is doing it for his volunteer hours for a class, and the other two are doing it as a work-study."

Vernon said his team works with a few recycling agencies from around Havre. The Green Team comes to the campus once a week to pick up their cardboard recycling.

"They take away a pickup load every week; about 180 to 200 pounds a week," Vernon said.

Vernon and his team go around picking up recycling from the bins around campus once a week.

"We take about 1,000 to 1,200 pounds of paper a week to Pacific Steel," Vernon said. "We also take No. 1 and No. 2 plastics and aluminum cans."

Walmart is currently where the sustainability committee takes the No. 1 and No. 2 plastics they collect. When they collect the plastics containers, they have rinse and get them relatively clean in order to get them ready to be recycled. They also take the caps off any containers they receive.

"When the plastics are recycled, the caps become projectiles (if they are still attached to the containers)," Vernon said

One of the projects Vernon is looking towards is trying to get more recycling bins for the campus. He said he has ordered a few in September and is waiting to hear back from the company in addition to pursuing getting approval for even more bins.

"I've ordered more bins to make it easier for students to recycle," Vernon said.

He is also collecting No. 5 plastics, which include plastics like Kool Whip containers, yogurt containers, the large McDonald's cups and some lids, and is trying to get a cost estimate to see if his team can send them to a facility that processes them. The nearest recycling center that accepts No. 5 plastics is in Billings, so Vernon is looking at the possibility of using a mail-in service.

Another project he is trying to kickstart is getting the resources together to do community clean up projects. He said he wants to make T-shirts to give to his team and volunteers from Northern to represent the university.

"The first project I want to do is the Kmart and Walmart parking lots," Vernon said.

Vernon said he think the recycling program at MSU-N is fairly successful and it is only going to get better under his watch.

"I would say there's a lot of motivation in the faculty to see this program succeed," Vernon said. "We're trying to educate everyone on campus about recycling. ... We want to get more information out there."

The students on Vernon's team are Wes Lundberg, Jedrick Schatz and Jennifer Polensky.

Vernon is a pursuing a double major in the diesel program at MSU-N, with the field maintenance option and the equipment maintenance option. This semester is his first semester at Northern, but just transferred from Portland Community College.

He is also a member of Recycle Hi-Line and his team attends that group's monthly recycling drive as a representative of Northern's recycling program.

Vernon said he plans on keeping his office as sustainability coordinator until  he graduates in the fall semester of 2015 or 2016.

"I want to stay a long time to establish the system before passing it on to the next coordinator," Vernon said.

 

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