"The recycling program at Washington College is in a period of transition right now," said senior Howard Kronthal of the recycling program that he helped to improve three years ago.
W.C.'s recycling program has recently become a topic of discussion and scrutiny sue to the fact that those in charge of it's handling are negotiating between companies right now.
Infinity recycling, which has long been responsible for removing the glass, aluminum, and plastic from the college grounds is now sharing the job with the county's recycling program.
"Over the past few years we've experienced an unfavorable pendulum swing as far as recycling is concerned," said Buildings and Grounds director Reid Raudenbush.
The alliance with Infinity began when W.C. alumnus Ford Schumann and his wife founded the company several years ago. The program set the precedent for recycling in Kent County and at first, the college was paid for the recyclables that were picked up. Since then, a lack of enthusiasm on the college's part and a declining market for glass has made Infinity's job more difficult. Now, the college pays the company for their services rather than vice versa.
"In the years between 1992 and 1994 Infinity severely cut back services because they just didn't have the manpower to go to each hall and cart out the recyclables," Raudenbush said.
Since that time, markets have continued to decline until Infinity was forced to stop their glass service. For a period of time over this past summer, the usual blue boxes used to collect green, brown, and clear glass bottles were not to be seen on campus.
"We realized that something needed to be done," Raudenbush said, "so Howard started looking into the possibility of utilizing the county's recycling program."
Kronthal, who began his work with recycling through a work study program and Terra Firma, made contact with Kent County Recycling coordinator Marty Holden who agreed to pick up the slack at no cost to the college. Raudenbush, Holden, and Kronthal met to secure the agreement and now, as soon as the college is equipped to start collecting again, the county will receive the recyclables. In addition to glass, Kent County Recycling is also scheduled to pick up plastic products and, in the near future, paper as well.
"There's such a popularity amongst the college students with plastic soda bottles that we thought it was a good idea," Raudenbush said.
Currently, Infinity handles the paper recycling but since Kent County is able to accept a greater variety of paper types, W.C. is thinking of switching services.
In order to provide for the changes to the program, Raudenbush has ordered large, trash can sized, bins for collecting. Additionally, new bins are being purchased for the glass products which will be similar to those the county provides for residents' curbside pick-up. Once the paper program is in place, Raudenbush is considering putting large paper parcels, called "Earth Bags," to collect the refuse.
The paper is made into pellets at a local plant which are then combined with cement and used for laying new road surfaces.
"Howard has really spear-headed the recycling program here at Washington College," Raudenbush said. "He's been helping with the program since his freshman year and has been crucial in these recent negotiations as well."
Kronthal hopes that the college will begin to take a more active roll in the process of recycling. Recent apathy within the student body has caused problems resulting in the mixing of other trash with the recyclables and improper separation of products, all of which make the recycling companies jobs more difficult.
"Recycling is a collective effort," Kronthal said. "Students have to do their part, too."