Students seek to bring recycling to Pepperdine

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Over the past year, some Pepperdine students have set out to change the university’s ways. They’re on a crusade to bring recycling to the campus.

While recycling is fairly workaday in modern American life, the university has never implemented a comprehensive campus recycling program. And that means that pounds and pounds of recyclable trash produced by the 7,900-student body population – like Diet Coke cans, Snapple Iced Tea bottles and student newspapers – head to a designated landfill.

A group of undergraduates last year started a letter-writing campaign to university administrators asking them to implement a recycling program. Students from the law school’s Environmental Law Society proposed a recycling plan complete with information on the size and placement of recycling bins. One member, Ban Alwardi, a second-year law student, placed a prototype bin for aluminum cans in the law school cafeteria that she said most law students seem to use. The cans are recycled by cafeteria employees.

“Our goal is to have recycling on the whole campus, but we started locally,” she said.

Paul Kamoroff, also a second-year law student and president of the Environmental Law Society, said he showed the recycling proposal to a law school dean who he said did not appear enthusiastic.

The dean, Steve Potts, said while he would like to see the university recycle, the law school cannot act on its own, and he referred further questions to the university administration.

Pepperdine has a white-paper recycling program, but the campus has yet to branch out to more “sophisticated” recycling, said the university’s Executive Vice President, Andrew Benton, who recently agreed to meet with a group of undergraduates to discuss the issue.

“This is one of those things that turns on the initiative of people,” he said.

Benton said the university’s current trash hauler removes recyclables from the trash. But students say that only 20 percent of the recyclable trash is reclaimed and that segregating recyclabes into bins is far more effective in reducing solid landfill waste.

Kamoroff said he is “disheartened” by the lack of a comprehensive recycling program, especially because undergraduate students are required to live on campus through their junior year, all the while producing recyclable trash.

“Pepperdine is a little city amongst itself,” he said.

Still, Kamoroff said, he is not surprised that the university does not have broad-based recycling. He thinks that because the concept of recycling originated with liberal environmentalists, the conservative university shies away from the practice.

“The idea of being conservative is to move slowly,” he said.

But in the end, comprehensive recycling at Pepperdine is, in all likelihood, inevitable. California law set a timetable for reduction of solid landfill waste. By 2000, Pepperdine must reduce its solid waste by 50 percent or face fines of $10,000 a day. Local agencies — in this case, Los Angeles County, since Pepperdine is not within the city limits of Malibu — are responsible for enforcing the law.