New bins arrive by campus eateries, encourage recycling
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The Cesar Chavez Student Center expanded its food waste composting program last month to the West Plaza in its quest to reduce its garbage by up to 85 percent.

The expansion, which the [X]press reported would occur on March 10, was delayed when its main student volunteer took time off for personal reasons, said Edina Bajrakteravic, retail service manager.

As the center does not have any full time staff for projects like these, its implementation relies currently on volunteers like Suzanne McNulty and other members of ECO Students, SF State’s group of environmentally conscious students, Bajrakteravic said.

But after McNulty returned last week, three trios of bins—one each for recyclables, compostables and garbage, mirroring San Francisco’s curbside collection system—appeared April 8 alongside the outside area’s restaurants.

Though a few logistical concerns remain—removing the bins from the previous system and weighing down the new ones with sandbags to keep their contents from blowing in the wind—Bajrakteravic said the changes were exciting and that students should “expect great things soon.”

ECO Students will send members to the West Plaza bins to help students learn the new collection system and use it properly during lunch hours.

And if the response to the group’s first station inside the center by Café 101 is any indication, the expansion “will be a flying success,” McNulty said. “Sounds like a lot of people are anxious to participate, and they’re glad that now there’s an opportunity.”

ECO Students plans to set aside what collects in the West Plaza bins for two weeks and check it to see how well students follow the system, McNulty said. If successful, up to 85 percent of what used to be thrown away by restaurant customers could be either recycled or composted, according to a waste study ECO Students conducted in 2006.

Collecting the whole 85 percent, however, would require replacing all the center cafeteria’s trash cans with three-bin stations like those now in place. Accomplishing that, along with introducing more compostable plastic foodware, will be the group’s next goal, said McNulty.

ECO Students will meet with the center’s governing board and update them on their progress this month, about two years after the group initially proposed a three-step plan to reduce the center’s waste. Though the project is taking longer to complete than the proposal envisioned, “things popping up is a normal part of the process. The progress that’s been made has been incredible,” McNulty said.

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