What gets thrown away does get recycled — eventually

Nikhil Patel, Assistant Editor

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Kepler Boonstra

“The students at Lab tend to discard their trash, whether it is recyclable or not, in the place most convenient for them,” junior Kepler Boonstra said.

Due to changes in recycling technology, Kepler’s statement is true — but a school official explains it doesn’t really matter because most trash and recyclables eventually get sorted at designated transfer stations. Cardboard is separated on campus to be either reused or recycled.

The common belief among U-High students is that all of the Lab Schools’ waste goes to landfills, but this isn’t true.

“The recycling guy comes every morning and then takes all the trash and other recycling into the compactor,” explained Joseph Wachowski, Lab’s director of operations, which includes recycling.

Mr. Wachowski explained that the recycling system at the transfer station is much more complex and sophisticated than one would imagine.

Alyssa Russell
RESPONSIBLE RECYCLING. Junior Eleanor Skish recycles an aluminum can. While the school does not separate recycling and trash on campus, officials still encourage using the correct bin to build lifelong recycling habits.

“Using puffs of air and vibrations,” Mr. Wachowski said, “these transfer stations can sort out plastics, aluminum and paper to be sent to their respective facilities.”

The biggest issue with Lab’s recycling system is cross-contamination. When food waste and liquids get on a batch of recycling, it can mean the batch ultimately is headed for a landfill.

“You get this contamination of the recycling, especially down in the cafeteria,” Mr. Wachowski said. “Even though it doesn’t matter because it’ll all get sorted at the transfer station, it can cause some issues with contaminating the cardboard, which we sort out at the school.”

The main concern Mr. Wachowski has about this is that students may not learn how to recycle for their everyday lives.

“Where it does matter is that we want kids to know the difference,” Mr. Wachowski said. “ESH has a great program when they’re little: no waste, recycling. We hope that those behaviors stay, but I haven’t seen anything yet.”

Although the school’s recycling methods seem simple, simplicity may create this misconception.

But this idea may be nothing more than garbage.