Monday, October 08, 2007

Does IUSB Actually Recycle?

Adam recently left a comment asking me whether or not IUSB actually recycles their recyclables. Adam, thanks for contacting me about this issue! (I figured I'd post this information here instead of replying in a comment. Hopefully, more people will read this message and the rumor will be quelled once and for all.)

So the issue regards the use of clear vs. opaque plastic liners for recycling. HIMCO, the company that handles both our waste and recyclables, prefers that IUSB use clear liners. But long story short, the recyclable ARE indeed being recycled, even though we use opaque liners. Michael Prater, the Director of Facilities (and also a member of the Recycling Committee), has directly observed the recyclables being transported for recycling at HIMCO, which is located in Elkhart.

The reason why it's okay for IUSB to use opaque plastic liners is because the sorting process actually takes place on-site at HIMCO.

Last February, I made a trip to HIMCO to see this recycling business for myself. I must say, it was quite an eye-opening experience! For starters, as I approached the facility, I noticed three flags: The company flag, the U.S. flag, and the Mexico flag. As part of the tour, I was allowed to enter the sorting area, which was located in a brick building about 3-stories high. Upon reaching the top of the metal stairs, I entered a long and narrow room. As soon as my tour guide opened the door, I heard Mexican music blaring. And then I saw this room, which was divided in half by a conveyor belt that carried the recyclables to this part of the facility. Flanked on each side of the conveyor belt were six people: three Mexican women and three Mexican men. And those folks were standing next to these really big chutes. So their job was to pick through the recyclables and sort them accordingly. For instance, I watched this guy select all the milk jugs and aluminum cans and place those items into their respective chutes for recycling.

It really was a sight to see. I had no idea what to expect from that experience! Anyway, if you're interested in taking a tour of this facility, please let me know and I'll be happy to make these arrangements for you! Also, the Recycling Committee is always seeking student members--please let me know if you would like to join us and help make IUSB a greener campus! :0)


Anonymous said...

What a coincidence that you wrote this post today. I just visited our local sorting facility and am about to write a similar post on my blog. And yes, it seemed that most of our sorters were also Mexican although there was no Mexican flag. And on the way there in the car, I was listening to an interview with Mexico's former President Fox. Strange coincidences indeed.

Adam said...

good to hear it actually happens. I figured there was some kind of post-sorting done at the facility, but it can't be too efficient. I would still suggest using the clear bags for recyclables, so the sorting would be done to that to find what was NOT recyclable, instead of what IS.