(Photo: Tom Alexander/MJ)
(Photo: Tom Alexander/MJ)

BY BENJAMIN SZILAGY, Staff Writer

The UM-Dearborn recycling program has drawn ire over an email sent out on Wednesday.

According to the email, as of Friday, Feb. 17, 2012, the desk side trash and/or recycling containers will not be emptied by custodial staff. It will be students’ and staff’s responsibility to empty the desk side containers to their central department large container so the custodial crew can direct efforts to department trash/recycling removal and not individual offices.

Student Organizations that do not have a central office large container will be asked to empty their desk side containers in larger hallway containers on the second floor.

The recycling program is organized through Resource Recycling Systems, which has set up Westland, Ann Arbor, and Michigan State’s recycling programs. They have been using the University Center (UC) since last summer as a model before the entire program rolls out to the rest of the University in April.

The University Center was chosen because of its “diverse needs” with recycling such as offices, meeting rooms, the campus bookstore, the cafeteria and its visitor center. The Director of Facilities Planning, Kathleen Pepin, said the school wanted the UC to “set the bar.” All participants in the program are supposed to empty their desk side trash cans as well as recycling bins into central collection station near their office so that metal, glass, and paper would be separated from the waste stream.

According to reports, 70 percent of the waste stream is now recycled. It was initially estimated that only half of the waste stream would be recycled. The push back from students came after the Wednesday’s email.

“It disappoints me that an institute of higher education is focusing less on academia and more on ‘kids’ taking out the trash,” said Mark Scarano, Director of the Student Activity Board. Wolf Pack’s Vice President Jacob Collison said that he “didn’t come to school to be a janitor.”

Upon hearing the news, both Pepin and Kathleen Herr, Director of the UC, were shocked because everyone has been “upbeat and embraced the program.”

The program was set up so that custodial efforts would be quicker and more efficient without cutting jobs or raising the budget. Pepin says that the money invested into the program will be returned in savings within two to three years.

“We just hope that everyone keeps honoring their initial agreement,” Pepin said. “There is no additional money at stake. The only thing at stake is saving our environment and taking responsibility for ourselves.”

Pepin and Herr both would be “more than happy to meet anyone with concerns to the program to work out the issues.”