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Waste not, want not

refuse container
USC offers a variety of containers for refuse.

Since opening in the fall of 2010, the Ronald Tutor Campus Center has become a crown jewel of the USC campus — and one of its main sources of trash.

Thousands of Trojans and community members visit the 150,000 square-foot facility daily to enjoy the state-of-the-art office and study spaces, artwork, dining options and social venues, including the Grand Ballroom, Tommy’s Place and Traditions.

“I’m not sure if the majority of the campus community is aware that we do sort our trash at an off-site venue,” said Eric Andrada, the center’s assistant director of operations. “The visibility of recycling on this campus has not been very high in the past.”

There’s a simple reason for the program’s low profile: the fate of campus trash doesn’t depend upon whether it’s placed in a recycling bin.

USC offers a variety of containers for refuse — regular trash cans, can and bottle receptacles in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center International Plaza and co-mingled recycling bins in many offices. But no matter which bin people choose to patronize, all the rubbish ultimately ends up in the same place, where it’s resorted into recyclables and trash.

In an effort to promote awareness of USC’s under-the-radar sustainability practices, the university is looking into adopting a more visible system with additional bins for recyclables — even though all contents would still end up at the same ultimate destination for resorting. In addition, the university is considering adding signage to every receptacle to inform visitors of where the trash goes after it leaves the USC campus.

“The whole campus recycles,” Andrada said. “However, having those recycling bins outside would send a message to the entire campus community that we do value recycling.”

Recyclable items include the usual suspects — paper, plastic, glass, aluminum and more — minus materials that have been contaminated by food or drink. Educating those on campus about ways to confine contaminants could increase the salvage rate of recyclables.

“We should set an example when it comes to properly recycling trash,” Andrada said. “And because the Campus Center is a central hub of university life, it’s a good opportunity to illustrate that we all can be conscious of the waste we produce.”

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