Students contaminate CHS recycling efforts

Recyclable waste at Calabasas High School is not being recycled. Contents from the recycling bins and the trash bins on campus end up in the same place: the trash.

CHS has recycling bins located in every class and next to almost every trash can across campus, encouraging students to be waste efficient. Unfortunately, students constantly throw food waste and other non-recyclable items into the blue recycling bins. According to custodian Fernando Orozco, this is especially seen during lunchtime, as students tend to throw their pizza and other food items into the blue bins, contaminating the rest of the items, leaving them dirty and unable to be recycled.

“Almost all of the recycling stuff in the recycling bin is contaminated,” said Principal CJ Foss. “If you drink out of a cup and some liquid is left, then that automatically makes everything else in the bin non-recyclable.”

While most of the outdoor bins end up being contaminated, the smaller recycling bins in the classrooms are often recycled whenever possible. The janitorial staff takes the clean papers from inside classrooms to the recycling bins, but just one piece of food can pollute the rest of the paper. Custodial staff attempts to salvage some recyclable materials from the outdoor bins, but doing so has proven to be difficult.

“We would have to sort through the bins,” said Orozco. “If the bins are clean then we can recycle [the contents].”

The CHS administration understands the difficulty of keeping the recycling clean. Vice Principal Martin Freel suggested a plan of action based on what he noticed from his time working at Agoura High School.

“We can have labels or pictures of what can be recycled on all the blue bins around our campus,” says Freel. “If we have concrete data that shows results, we might be able to see change.”

Although, his ideas are only hypothetical and the administration currently does not intend to address the issue. Freel suggests that if students feel passionate and want to be more environmentally friendly, they should take action by only throwing recyclable items into the recycling bins and waste items into the trash bins.