Single-stream recycling keeps it green

The new recycling policy is expected to increase GU’s recycling output and decrease waste. It will also save the university about $100 a month.

A new recycling policy is in place on Gonzaga's campus called single-stream recycling. The new policy will reportedly increase GU's recycling output and decrease solid waste cost.  The new method was enacted at the end of January because, "too much of the recycling before was being contaminated," custodial manager for GU Plant Services Linda Leonerd said.

The prior recycling method required students and faculty to separate recyclable objects into different bins designated for paper, plastic, glass, etc. Single-stream allows all recyclable material to be placed in the same receptacle, eliminating the chance of contamination.  

"If anybody inadvertently would put the glass with the plastic, it just became contaminated," Leonerd said. "Very often they were contaminated and then it just becomes garbage." 

The old recycling policy was run by the state, but single-stream is done through a private corporation called Waste Management in Spokane. Custodians on campus empty each small receptacle in the buildings to the larger ones by the Dumpsters outside. Waste Management retrieves the recyclables and separates the materials at their facilities.  

Almost everything is recyclable with single-stream, Leonerd said. The main things that are not recyclable are plastic bags, Styrofoam, light bulbs, and batteries. 

Plant Services has received no complaints about the new policy, Tim Hatcher, grounds supervisor for GU, said.  Hatcher, who is also part of the Advisory Council on Stewardship and Sustainability at GU, had a big part in bringing single-stream to GU's campus.  Last September, Hatcher tried the single-stream method on a few areas on campus before enacting the new policy.

"I tested four different buildings for a month to see if it was working better," Hatcher said.

Those buildings were Catherine/Monica Hall, Madonna Hall, McCarthey Athletic Center and Dussault Apartments. Hatcher and the ACSS agreed to initialize single-stream all over campus, but it wasn't until the end of January the policy became effective. 

"The only thing that held us up was that Waste Management had gotten so popular with single-stream containers they didn't have enough," Hatcher said. "They couldn't get enough steel to this side of the state to build the containers, but now they got enough steel so every building on campus is on single-stream."

The old recycling method cost GU at least $1,500 every month.  The new policy brings each monthly bill down to about $1,400.

"It's not a huge savings, but it's a little bit," Hatcher said.

Hatcher thinks the amount of recycling GU is doing now has increased, but he won't have any numbers until the end of the month. He plans to take February's numbers from last year and compare them to February's numbers this year. 

Hatcher does not expect complaints from students because many of them come from areas that already practice single-stream. He suspects it was more difficult for them to get used to the old methods of separating recyclables. Now students need only place all of their recyclables in one bin. 

For more information about recycling at GU visit the Campus Resources page at

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(1) comment


While you may feel that recycling is each person for himself, in reality it is a huge industry within itself. After you do the basic sorting out and deposit your trash for recycling, it has to be sorted and shipped off to the right places. This is done by thousands of workers, who are newly employed by the growing commercial janitorial services san diego ca industry. Certainly, one of the major benefits of recycling is that it creates more jobs in the community and provides stability to the entire process. Throwing the trash away creates some six to seven jobs at best, where recycling can help create close to thirty jobs.

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