The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

College shifts to Eureka for recycling services

By Brian Martucci

Macalester will begin using Eureka Recycling as its recycling service next semester, a change that may affect the way in which CafAc Mac disposes of its food waste. The college currently uses St. Paul-based Rock Tenn Recycling.Eureka is a locally owned non-profit organization spawned by the Neighborhood Energy Consortium, a local environmental awareness group. Eureka is currently conducting a six-month environmental assessment of the college, according to MacCARES member Timothy Den Herder-Thomas ƒ?TM09.

Eureka will sign a five-year contract with Macalester, which will involve setting up a ƒ?oework planƒ?? each year in collaboration with a ƒ?oeGreen Teamƒ?? comprised of students, faculty and administrators. The ƒ?oeGreen Teamƒ?? will help determine how the college can best improve its waste disposal practices on an annual basis, according to Diana Kennedy ƒ?TM95, a Eureka spokeswoman.

The assessment is designed to uncover shortcomings in the collegeƒ?TMs recycling practices. Eureka will still probably take the contract no matter what it uncovers, said Environmental Studies Professor Brett Smith.

ƒ?oeThe purpose of the environmental assessment is for Eureka to determine where Macalester needs to improve its environmental practices and to help the college improve in those areas,ƒ?? he said. ƒ?oeEureka is a national leader in innovative recycling ideas.ƒ??

Kennedy said that contract negotiations were proceeding smoothly.
ƒ?oeWhile these things can always fall apart, right now we look to be on track to finalize the contract,ƒ?? she said. ƒ?oeOur goal is to make Macalesterƒ?TMs campus waste-free by the time our contract expires.ƒ??
As the company is willing to work with the college to help lessen its environmental impact, Den Herder-Thomas said he was optimistic that real change might come about as a result of the collaboration. MacCARES also hopes to collaborate with Eureka on a plan to dispose of CafAc Macƒ?TMs food waste through forced composting, as opposed to the simple disposal system it currently uses.

According to Den Herder-Thomas, CafAc Mac currently ƒ?oepulpsƒ?? its food wasteƒ?”a process that turns the matter into a thick, viscous liquid and then extracts latent water from itƒ?”and ships it to a certified disposal site.

ƒ?oeFood waste is pulped after each meal,ƒ?? said Alese Colehour ƒ?TM09, another member of MacCARES. ƒ?oeEach meal results in about one garbage bag worth of pulped material.ƒ??

According to Colehour, the administration has been supportive of the composting plan, but space constraints make it difficult to keep non-biodegradable material separate from compostable waste. Eureka is expected to work with the college to overcome this and other obstacles to sustainable waste control on campus.

Although the composting plan is still tentative, other plans to make the collegeƒ?TMs waste removal as environmentally friendly as possible may materialize as soon as next semester, when Eurekaƒ?TMs environmental assessment of the college is complete.

The company plans to aggressively monitor the waste generated by next fallƒ?TMs move-in day and dispose of it in an eco-friendly manner. Kennedy cited St. Paulƒ?TMs annual Living Green expo as proof that the non-recyclable waste generated by a large gathering of people can be cut nearly to zero.

ƒ?oeTen thousand people attended the Living Green Expo this year,ƒ?? she said. ƒ?oeWe needed only four trash cans for the entire event.ƒ??

Eureka also plans to work with the college to ensure that its purchasing practices emphasize sustainability. In practice, this means using recycled paper, plastics, and other such materials.

MacCARES has known since last October that the college was interested in finding a new recycling company. According to Den Herder-Thomas, Tom Votta, a contract consultant, helped solicit bids from various companies. Eureka submitted the lowest bid.

ƒ?oe[MacCARES is] very happy that Macalester chose Eureka,ƒ?? Den Herder-Thomas said. ƒ?oeTheyƒ?TMre a progressive local organization and theyƒ?TMre not in it for the money.ƒ??

Eureka also hopes to include students in its operations at the college, Kennedy said. The company would like to involve some classes in trash sorting to give students a first-hand look at the inner workings of waste disposal.

The company also employs several current students as interns and plans to continue to do so in the future.

Rather than contract its reusable waste disposal out to a single recycling company, the city of St. Paul allows its property owners to choose their own recycling service. The idea behind privatization is that competition between the several waste disposal companies operating in the metro area will keep prices lower than city pressure on a single firm otherwise could.

Eureka is the exception to the rule. Most recycling companies operating in the Twin Cities are for-profit corporations owned by national consortia. Rock-Tenn, for example, is a large-scale industrial corporation that specializes not just in recycling but in manufacturing and distribution as well.

These larger recycling companies generally make their money by filling landfills, not recycling plants. This, in turn, leaves them little incentive to encourage recycling or the reduction of waste, Kennedy said.

Eureka, on the other hand, receives financial incentives from Vasco, a family-owned waste disposal company, to reduce waste and promote recycling.

According to Kennedy, Eurekaƒ?TMs familiarity with both the Twin Cities and Macalester allows it to form an intimate bond with the college.

ƒ?oeWeƒ?TMre looking forward to a rewarding long-term relationship with Macalester,ƒ?? she said. ƒ?oeWe think the college can really establish itself as an example of an environmentally friendly organization, and hopefully other schools and businesses will follow that example.ƒ??

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