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Sustainability commissioner looks to increase campus' recycling

by Rebecca Fiore / Beacon Staff • February 14, 2013

Lindsay Geller, the SGA sustainability commissioner, in a meeting on Tuesday.
Lindsay Geller, the SGA sustainability commissioner, in a meeting on Tuesday.

According to a survey administered by Lindsay Geller, the sustainability commissioner on the Student Government Association, around 97 percent of Emerson students said there were not enough recycling facilities on campus.

 Geller created this survey to gain more insight on why students don’t recycle. After looking at the lopsided poll results, Geller got the idea to bring the Boston-based Greenbean Recycle’s Machine to Emerson. 

Geller said out of the survey results, 93 percent of students said they would be more inclined to recycle if they had more of a reason.  

“You are getting financial rewards for every time you recycle, so it is an incentive to recycle more,” she said.

 According to the Greenbean Recycle website, the machine accepts glass, plastic, and aluminum products, and within seconds, gives feedback on the number of containers that were prevented from entering landfills. Due to Massachusetts state law, each recycled good is worth five cents.

 “For colleges, it is often linked up to [a student’s ID] card, so hopefully if we get it on campus, we can get it linked to EC Cash,” Geller said.

 According to Geller, Shanker Sahai, the founder of Greenbean Recycle, said recycling with this machine is cleaner and more efficient because it separates glass, plastic, and aluminum. When glass contaminates
plastic it is no longer able to be recycled. 

 “If Emerson does this, all the recycling done from this machine won’t cost any money for the items to be taken away,” Geller said. Normally recycling collection agencies cost around $100 per ton, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

The sophomore said she wants to get one machine, and the company agreed that if the first was successful, then after four years, it would provide another for free. 

The cost of one machine is $6,500, but the company has agreed to allow the college to pay monthly $150 rebates for every month that over 15,000 bottles and cans are recycled. 

The three reimbursement options of the Greenbean Recycle machine are for the money to go on student accounts, to a PayPal account, or to a charity of choice, according to Geller.

Freshman Nicholas Holmes said the Greenbean Recycle Machine is be a good idea.

“I can’t imagine someone turning down five cents because we are college students. I think it would be good for charity too because five cents is inconsequential,” the performing arts major said. “As long as the benefits outweigh getting this machine, it would be excellent.”

The survey indicated many Emerson students do think recycling is important.

“I know that Emerson already is pretty pro-recycle. More than 60 percent of students recycle all of their bottles and cans. Basically the reason why they don’t is because they don’t have enough facilities that are readily accessible,” Geller read from her survey results.

Holmes is one of the students who said he does recycle, but does not think everyone else remembers to.

“I think that would be a great opportunity to improve recycling efforts in the college because everyone recycles. The only reason why they don’t is because they forget,” the performing arts major said.

An initiative with the SGA has been started by Geller, though it has not been brought to the table. Geller said she is working with the SGA, the Emerson Peace and Social Justice, and Earth Emerson on the initiative. 

 “We are hoping to get it financed by the school and not by the SGA. The first step was the survey and getting as many student results as possible,” Geller said. 

Geller said she met with President M. Lee Pelton on Monday during his open office-hours. 

Monday, Geller will meet with Jay Phillips, chair of sustainability committee, to discuss further planning.

“Hopefully,” said Geller. “If all goes well, we will all be seeing a Green Bean Recycle machine at Emerson soon,”