Humber’s recycling efforts getting trashed

Gus Fournouzis Gus Fournouzis takes care of Humber North campus cafeteria where he often sees students tossing their trash in wrong bins. (Clare Jenkins)

Clare Jenkins
Environment Reporter

Humber College is getting trashy. Recycling is getting mixed with garbage and it’s all being thrown out. Humber College has gone to some lengths to make campus an environmentally responsible place. From water refill stations to colour-coded recycle bins, Humber has been trying to shrink its carbon footprint. But it’s not working as well as it should.

Gus Fournouzis takes care of general clean-up on North campus. He is a familiar face that many students will have seen in the cafeteria.

“I generally take care of the school. I take garbage from tables, clean tables, take the garbage and put it outside,” he said.

Fournouzis pointed out one of the colour-coded bins in the cafeteria. He said he often finds garbage and recycling in the wrong bins, though the bins are clearly marked. When students discard their garbage or recycling incorrectly, they are making the final decision on where it will end up. When recycling is contaminated it is all thrown out. Fournouzis said it’s not his job to sort through the mixed-up items.

“People mix the recycling all together, they make mistakes. To me it’s no problem but I don’t separate it,” he said.
Fournouzis said the things he finds in the wrong bin most frequently is paper pizza trays. Humber Sustainability’s website said clean trays should be put in the paper bin.

“It’s a mistake. Students don’t know and they make mistakes,” he said. “But people should pay more attention. They must be careful and read the signs, put the waste where it should go and the recycling where it should go,” Fournouzis said.

John Demaria, 18, is a first year Humber Marketing student. He said he ends up throwing all of his waste into one trash receptacle.

“I kind of just put it all into one. Sometimes I remember to separate it but not always,” he said.

Demaria said he thinks students are ignoring the signs on the recycling bins.

“We’re lazy, I guess, or we just don’t think about it,” he said.

Lindsay Walker, Humber’s Sustainability Manager, said they have been working on improving garbage and recycling bins.

“We’ve done a lot to improve the messaging around the bins on campus in the last two years. This fall we introduced videos on HumberTV and had students stand beside bins during the first two weeks of September to educate all about what goes where,” she said.

Walker said she believes some students aren’t recycling on campus out of apathy but there could be other reasons.
“Some people don’t know what is the right way and they don’t have time to stand and try to figure it out,” Walker said. “Some people from other countries and cultures that haven’t recycled most of their lives aren’t used to it and don’t know they are supposed to.”

She also said there isn’t enough social pressure from the people who do care.

“(People) get discouraged if they see someone else doing it wrong, they don’t think it matters for them to do it right.”