Where have all the blue bins gone?


[img_inline align=”right” src=”http://padnws01.mcmaster.ca/images/bluebinsF.jpg” caption=”Staff lounge, Gilmour Hall”]Is McMaster's recycling program dead? The absence of many of the blue recyling bins, which have come to symbolize the University's commitment to the 4Rs, has many members of the community questioning the status of the program.

No, the recycling program is not dead. But it has been dealt a severe blow and needs the participation and support of the entire community in order to recover, say Dave Tucker, director of risk management services, and Jan Callfas, senior manager of operations, physical plant.

Dozens of the blue recycling bins have been removed from hallways in buildings across campus following orders issued by the Hamilton Fire Department in November.

Tucker says the bins were removed to be in compliance with guidelines for recycling in schools. “This is the first time we have had to deal with enforcement of these guidelines, which state that there is to be no recycling containers in hallways.”

Tucker says the fire department is concerned about the recycling bins for two reasons: combustibility of contents and obstruction of hallways (which may interfere with safe exit).

Where possible, the blue bins have been relocated to other acceptable areas in campus buildings. But this means that faculty, staff and students may have to look for them and walk a little farther to deposit their recycling materials into a central bin. (A list of the locations of recycling bins in buildings across campus appears below.)

Callfas says physical plant is currently exploring ways to salvage the University's recycling program. She expects it will take several months to fully consider the alternatives and options. Even then, she says, the recycling effort at McMaster may be considerably modified and downsized. A revamped program will likely focus on community participation, and better awareness and education of where the bins are located.

An appeal is being made to members of the University community to familiarize themselves with the locations of the blue bins in campus buildings. Callfas and Tucker believe people are committed to recycling and hope they will go that extra distance to deposit their recycling materials.

Faculty and staff are also being asked to use their small, desk-side recycling bins to store recycling materials such as bottles and cans. “There is no need to separate the kinds of paper put into the recycling bins. Paper and newspaper, for example, can go in the same bin. But bottles and cans need to be separated from paper,” says Callfas. Extra desk-side bins are available on request through area physical plant managers (visit Web site below to find out who the area service manager for your building). Desk-side recycling bins will be emptied when office garbage is collected. Callfas says consideration has been given to increasing the frequency of this service; however, the resources necessary to implement this change are not available.

Callfas says the recycling program has been dramatically downsized as a result of the removal of the large bins. “If people are putting cans and bottles in the garbage, then these items are leaving the campus as garbage. Staff are not sorting garbage.” This practice will increase the University's garbage removal costs as these costs are assessed by bulk and weight, she says. “Conversely, if we are able to maintain a significant volume of recycling material, the University can be compensated for pickups.”

Departments and areas may wish to set up smaller recycling stations within their own areas. They are advised, however, to first contact the physical plant service manager within their building, who will arrange to do an assessment of the area (to ensure it meets the Hamilton Fire Department's guidelines) before any large blue bins are installed.

Criteria for an acceptable area include: a one-hour fire-separated room; a door having a 45-minute fire-protected rating, a self-closing device and a latch; and the area must be equipped with a fire detector tied into the building's fire alarm system.

Tucker says colleagues in other institutions have been contacted by risk management staff to find out how they are handling the matter and “it appears that the problem is unique to Hamilton.” Area school boards and Mohawk College are dealing with the same issues, he says.

The fire department's inspection has resulted in about 900 work orders for a variety of modifications across campus, says Tucker. Most relate to recycling, to modifying doors for safety reasons, and to ensuring exit signs are well marked.

People area also asked not to prop doors open. “It seems like a minor issue, but any door with a self-closer is assumed to be a fire door and can't be propped open,” says Tucker. The University will be fined if regulations regarding fire doors are not followed.

Location of Recycling Bins on Campus

University Hall

Rooms B103 and 211– paper and can/bottles
RoomB126– paper

Gilmour Hall

Room B106 — paper and cans/bottles
Room 231 –paper

Chester New Hall

Room 112– paper

Togo Salmon Hall

Room B113 –cans/bottles
Room 118 –paper

Kenneth Taylor Hall

Rooms B111, 109, 704 –paper
Rooms B116, 705 — cans/bottles

Michael G. De Groote

Rooms B105, B106, B107, 122B, 201 — paper and cans/bottles
Room 201 — paper
Room 227 — bottles/cans
Rooms 301, 401 — paper

Hamilton Hall

Rooms 21 and 302/A –paper

Ivor Wynne Centre

Rooms B112, 104B, 104A, 104 –cans/bottles

Commons Building

Room 201 — cans/bottles

John Hodgins Engineering

Rooms 121 and 328 — paper and cans/bottles

Building T-13

Rooms 101 — paper and cans/bottles

Library/Art Gallery Building

Rooms L118, L298, L504 — paper

Burke Science Building

Room 239 — cans/bottles
Room 332 — paper

General Sciences Building

Rooms 218 and 219 — cans/bottles

Life Sciences Building

Room 213 — cans/bottles
Room 409 — paper

Campus Services Building

Room 203 paper and cans/bottles
Room 201 — cans/bottles