Table of contents
ACTION: Recycling Bins at IES
Recycling is one of the easiest and most helpful was to create a sustainable community. Currently there are no recycling bins in the IES Center for plastic or aluminum cans. In Barcelona the average daily waster generated per inhabitant of the city is 1.17 kg. Of that waste 41.5 is paper products and 14.5 is plastic products. I am proposing implementing mandatory recycling bins for plastic bottles on every floor of IES. Each bin will be clearly labeled for its purpose.
Many students come into the IES building with plastic bottles they got from their lunch or their home-stays/apartments. When students are finished with their plastic bottle there is no proper recycling facility to deposit them in.
1.2.1 Potential Benefits
This action has both short term and long term benefits, but the long term benefits are much greater. In the short term, there will be more recycling around the center. In the long term all future student of IES will be reducing their ecological footprint. According to a study only about 12% of plastic water bottles are recycled each year, the rest are thrown in with other trash, while most water bottles end up in landfills. BY supplying the proper recycling containers for plastic bottles IES students will be reducing their waste by recycling and therefore improving their ecological footprint. This is also an opportunity IES has to change attitudes and habits of American students. Before coming to Barcelona I only recycled if a receptacle was available to me, which was rare. By supplying the recycling bins IES can show Americans the importance of recycling which will encourage them to make it a force of habit, and begin to recycle more in the US, and get recycling bins in the US. This action has potential to end dependance on plastic water bottles. By recycling water bottles everyday students may realize that it is cheaper to by an aluminum water bottle and use that as a water supply.
1.2.2 Potential Costs
There are some potential costs of this action, that need to make sure to be avoided. The biggest potential cost would be the emptying of the recycling bins. It is imperative that IES make it their responsibility to have the cleaning service properly dispose of the plastic bottles in the correct manner. I don't believe this will be a problem, since they dispose of the recycled paper, but it needs to be ensured. Other costs are students not caring about he recycling bins, or not knowing that they exist. These can be avoided by including the bins in a sustainability handout and telling students about the bin and their importance during orientation.
This is a very practical idea and can be accomplished very quickly and easily. I think that a majority of students are not recycling because there is not easy access to recycling bins.
To acquire the actual recycling bins I suggest that in the beginning we use large cardboard boxes. We could ask neighboring businesses to give us previously used boxes that their products came in. This is not a long time solution, but certainly a first step. In the future I suggest IES invest in plastic boxes that can easily be bought for not too much money. Money from the sustainability fund can be allocated to buy three large bins for plastic water bottles, one for each floor of the center. A paper can be attached to the bins and state that the bin is solely used for recycling plastic waste. I also plan on adding a paper to the cardboard boxes.
For the removal of the recycled water bottles the use of the city recycling bins located on the street in front of the center should be used. I am suggesting that each day the bins be emptied into the proper recycling bins on the street, this is very easy. When I went to the student council they informed me that the paper recycling that IES currently undertakes costs the center around 50 euros. To avoid this or an additional fee to the 50 euro, I suggest that we ask the cleaning service to take the bottles out to the recycling bins on the street. The cleaning facility currently takes the trash out of the IES building, and I feel they would be able to do this. If not, an alternative would be asking some staff memebers or to bring the bottles out every other day, or whenever they are full. If both these options are not available, than i suggest using money from th Sustainability Fund to pay for the recycling.
This is a very simple project, but can make a big difference in making IES Barcelona more sustainable.
When I met with the Student Council they were very excited about the idea, especially because it would require little to no costs for IES. As the project currently stands, I will be getting the bins next week and they will be in the center by the time we leave Barcelona. I hope that someone in next years sustainably class will be able to see this action through, and make sure it survives at IES.
1.4 References and Links
1.5 Students involved in Action
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