The Uproar

Sorting Out the Truth

How much that ends up in the recycling bins actually gets recycled?

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Sorting Out the Truth

photo by Adelle Fernando

photo by Adelle Fernando

photo by Adelle Fernando

Jimbo Lawry, NATV Program Director

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Over the past few weeks, rumors have broken out across NASH about the school’s recycling policy. Certain students and teachers alike have made claims that all materials put into school recycling bins are instead disposed of along with regular trash.

In October, senior Sam Marien offered to recycle some bottles and cups at an event with the Field Hockey Team. “Anyone that knows me knows I have a passion for saving the environment,” she said. However, she was told by a teammate that NA doesn’t recycle — the source being a North Allegheny teacher.

“A friend once talked to a janitor about recycling in the past, and he never really said much about what actually does occur,” she added.  “Another friend said she knows that the janitors don’t recycle, so the teachers do it themselves.”

Marien then made it her mission to discover the truth about school recycling. She spent the next day spreading word of the issue, which was met with a number of students confirming the claims with stories of their own. As a result, The Uproar went to NASH Principal Dr. Kreider to sort things out.

“The custodians are on very tight schedules in the evening to clean the classes, and so they don’t necessarily have the latitude or time to sift through and be the sorters.””

— Dr. Kreider

“Businesses, corporations, and school organizations are held to different standards when it comes to recycling,” Kreider said. “If we get product in [the recycling bins] that is not recyclable, we actually get a fine that comes back to us. We have to be very cautious of what gets put into those recycling bins, and in many cases, that has a huge impact on what we can get recycled here.”

Kreider explained that “contaminated” (non-recyclable) items can severely impact recycling as a whole. “The custodians are on very tight schedules in the evening to clean the classes, and so they don’t necessarily have the latitude or time to sift through and be the sorters,” he added.

In addition, Dr. Kreider also provided an email from the Manager of Custodial Services in June that clarifies the situation.

“The District will be fined $95.00 each time the materials they pick up are contaminated,” the email reads.

Although a single fine would not be very problematic for the school, multiple fines of $95 each quickly add up to cost the district significantly.

While recycling can be difficult in a large organization, it certainly isn’t impossible. 

“Many North Allegheny school buildings, but not all, handle recycling on their own,” said Curtis Griffith of North Allegheny Custodial Services.  “Scout organizations or other groups will collect the recycling from the cans that are in each classroom and are supplied by the district. The biggest challenge is when students and staff throw non-recyclables in the recycling containers. Each building has green Abitibi recycling receptacles for paper and cardboard only. They also have blue Republic Waste receptacles for recycling plastic bottles, glass bottles or jars, steel cans and empty aerosol cans and aluminum cans, foil and pie tins. Non-recyclables are plastic bags like trash bags or grocery store bags, plastic tubs like butter tubs, and any food items.”

Yet Marien is holding firm to her ideals.  “We are such a big school that has so much potential to do amazing things, and with everything happening with global warming and climate change, we could all really make a difference,” Marien said. 

Griffith concurred, though he pointed out that it’s not easy.  “It takes each and every student, staff member and community member to make a recycling program work,” he said. “We all have to make a concerted effort to recycle responsibly.”

About the Writer
Jimbo Lawry, NATV Program Director

Zack "Baron Von Jimbo" Lawry is a senior at North Allegheny Senior High School and will (hopefully) graduate at the end of the year. Jimbo took on the...

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Sorting Out the Truth