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Recycling in an off-campus residence: how students can contribute

When students move off campus, they might not get a recycling bin with their residence. However, there are still options for those who wish to recycle. Credit: Michael Lee | Outreach and Engagement Editor

When the City of Columbus announced its recycling program under former Mayor Michael Coleman, it offered recycling bins to residents with 300- or 90-gallon garbage cans.

However, the city did not give them to multifamily complexes, which were buildings with five or more residential units, houses that did not have the 300- or 90-gallon containers, or residences that had dumpsters,T.J. Black, management analyst for the city’s division of refuse collection, said.

“If you were off-campus in a single-family residential home or a duplex, you were issued a recycling container,” Black said.

Even so, Black said many 300- and 90-gallon containers around the campus area had been replaced by dumpsters due to repeated vandalization.

“They were burned to the ground on a regular basis, particularly after a big football game,” Black said.

Some students, such as Michael Hurley, a fourth-year in political science, do not have a recycling bin despite living in a duplex.

“We gather our recycling in a bin in our kitchen. Once it gets full, we bag it up and my roommate takes it to his family’s house,” Hurley said.

So how can students recycle if they want to, but don’t have a recycling bin?

Black said those who live in homes or duplexes with a 300- or 90-gallon trash container that never received a recycling bin from the city can request one by calling the Division of Refuse Collection’s customer service at 614-645-3111 to get one delivered.

According to the city’s website, if Columbus residences aren’t sure if they can get a recycling bin, they can call the customer service number to check as well.

However, Black said those who live in apartment complexes or complexes with a dumpster or compacting service cannot request the bins.

Instead, Tim Swager, administrator for the Division of Refuse Collection, said the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio offers drop-off locations for students to take their recycling. Items students can recycle are paper and cardboard, plastic bottles and jugs, glass bottles and jars, metal cans and cartons. Details on how to prepare these recyclables, along with a list of drop-off facilities, can be found on SWACO’s website.

Black said in 2017, 342,611 households in the city disposed of an average 1,831.26 pounds of trash per house.

Hurley said while it’s not something about which he’s ever really thought, he’d like to see everyone off campus make an effort to be less wasteful.

“Certainly, you see a lot of trash off campus, especially on the weekends,” Hurley said.

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