Discarded seat cushions, chemical and detergent bottles, and bags of garbage tower over a bulldozer as it sweeps piles of debris up into its blade. A cloud of dust hangs in the air as trash is dropped into a machine engineered to sort recyclable material in the Republic Services transport station in Anaheim. This is where CSUF’s waste and recyclables are sorted.
CSUF produced about 3,000 tons of waste and recyclables in 2017, said Danny Miranda Jr., a sustainable waste management specialist.
“It fluctuates give or take a few 100 tons, but it depends a lot on projects. Sometimes there is construction projects where suddenly they’ll generate extra tons we didn’t have the previous year,” Miranda Jr. said.
The waste that goes in the recycling or trash bins on campus is picked up by two designated types of trucks, a recycling front loader and two landfill trucks, that service CSUF in the morning. From there, they go to Anaheim’s transport station to be sorted.
CSUF’s diversion rate, the amount of of waste diverted away from landfills, ranks in the “middle” compared to other campuses, said Michael Lotito, associate director of planning operations, and the campus is attempting to bring those numbers up.
California state law specifies a 75 percent waste diversion goal, however the CSUs goal is to reach an 80 percent waste diversion by 2020.
“Our diversion rate was 55 percent last year. Our target is to get up to 75 percent,” Lotito said.
Once the materials have been sorted at Republic Services, the recycling waste is either sold to other companies that turn it into another product, or moved from the transport station to the Olinda Landfill or Frank R. Bowerman Landfill.
Materials that are recyclable include aluminum (cans), glass, paper, cardboard (unless it is food covered) and plastics, according to Republic Services website.
Depending on the type of plastic, the material can be recycled to become another container, playground equipment, picnic tables, lawn furniture, plastic lumber or even clothes, according to the American Chemistry Council, an enterprise that advocates for public policies that support the creation of products that improve lives and protect the environment.
Miranda Jr. said he expects there will be an increase in diversion rates with upcoming campus programs in place. He said there are plans to start a composting program at the Fullerton Arboretum, and to recycle preprocessed food waste in the Gastronome.
“Post-consumer is after students buy it, eat it and throw it in the trash. This is all the cuttings from the kitchens, all the stuff that hasn’t been consumed yet, all the runoff and all that,” Miranda Jr. said.
In 2017, about 244 tons of paper were shredded and recycled, and about 600 tons of green yard waste were collected on campus.
“We’ve complied with the yard waste aspect but not the food aspect yet. So this is long overdue, and we’re getting that started,” Miranda Jr. said.