The city of Ann Arbor’s recycling program ranks among the nation’s top 10, recovering 53 percent of the city’s waste. Too often, however, students living off-campus do not participate in this citywide effort to divert garbage from landfills. In response, Recycle Ann Arbor, the city-contracted company that operates Ann Arbor’s recycling collection program, founded the RecyclePlus program earlier this month to increase awareness and make more recycling bins available for tenants. This program is a promising start, but it will take more than a handful of extra recycling bins and a few more flyers to convince apathetic students to recycle. Through RecyclePlus, Recycle Ann Arbor should provide all apartments with individual recycling bins to make recycling as effortless as possible, and Ann Arbor City Council should require landlords and housing companies to provide new tenants with information regarding recycling.

Jess Cox

To encourage recycling, Ann Arbor needs to increase the number of bins available to tenants. Many students will forget or choose not to recycle if a bin is not readily available, and few students are willing to make the necessary phone calls if their building lacks a bin. Because Ann Arbor’s current policy provides only one recycling bin or cart for each building, apartments in larger complexes may lack their own bin. Recycle Ann Arbor should ensure that tenants receive their own bin upon moving in, even if this may incur extra costs. By making it easier to recycle, students will be more likely to put recyclable materials in proper containers rather than in the trash.

In addition to providing adequate containers, landlords need to inform their tenants about the benefits of recycling. The city should require that landlords provide flyers to each tenant and talk with them about city recycling procedures.

Even if recycling bins make a stronger off-campus showing, student apathy will often undermine efforts by programs like RecyclePlus. Students need to realize the benefits of recycling and take the additional five minutes each week to haul their recycling bin to and from the curb. Students who make a habit out of recycling now will be more likely to continue recycling after they graduate. Student groups need to increase awareness by holding on-campus events that show the benefits of recycling. Groups can also go from door to door in order to give residents information about recycling.

RecyclePlus is currently working with only 15 major housing companies in Ann Arbor, and it will take broader participation from landlords in order to ensure that every student has easy access to recycling containers and pertinent information. The additional hassle of providing off-campus students with bins and recycling information may deter housing companies from cooperating with programs like RecyclePlus, but the benefits of recycling far outweigh the minimal inconvenience to landlords.

Both landlords and students must realize their participation is crucial to the success of Ann Arbor’s recycling program. RecyclePlus will certainly facilitate recycling among off-campus students; however, more needs to be done to leave students without an excuse not to recycle.

 

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