Following SAIT’s crumpled paper trail
However, SAIT has been working towards becoming a greener campus by building eco-friendly buildings such as the new Trades and Technology Complex, as well as having more class assignments and homework done online.
Although most classes on campus involve doing assignments online through D2L, SAIT is not yet a completely paper-free campus. Many class assignments are still printed out, notebooks are used during lectures, and hundreds of paper Tim Hortons and Starbucks coffee cups are thrown away every day by students craving their daily caffeine fixes.
Over-consumption and the garbage it creates is a growing problem. Each year we recycle more, but we also create more garbage. According to Environment Canada, on average, each Canadian produces 2.7 kg of waste per day, and according to Stats Canada, only 30 per cent of that waste is recycled. It is a problem we all help to create, but not everyone is on board with the solution.
“I hardly ever recycle. If I actually find a recycling bin I do—it’s not like I hate the earth or something,” says Jessica Wolf, a first-year business administration student. “I just don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”
Many people do not realize that recycling has a variety of benefits, such as saving energy and raw materials, which reduces dependency on foreign energy and material sources; benefiting the local economy through job creation at recycling depots; and increasing opportunities for innovative product design and manufacturing. It also prevents the pollution generally associated with manufacturing products from raw materials conserves natural resources including minerals, timber, and water, and decreases greenhouse gas emissions.
One tonne of paper made completely from recycled scrap saves 7,000 gallons of water, 4,100 kilowatt-hours of energy, three cubic yards of landfill space, and 17 trees.
According to Ashley Lubyk, founder of the Healthy Homes program at Green Calgary, in his Ask Ashley blog on the Green Calgary website “The success of every recycling program depends on each of us sorting recyclables at the source. Everyone needs to place recyclables in recycling containers and trash in trash containers. If people contaminate the recyclable materials with trash, the recycler has no other choice but to reject the recyclables and everyone loses.”
Lubyk says that when making purchases, consider purchasing things manufactured with recycled material.
“Recycling only works if we purchase items containing recycled content. The key here is thinking about the environmental consequences of a purchasing decision before buying.”
According to SAIT Facilities Management, all SAIT recyclables are delivered to a collection site or recycling facility and the recycling facility converts the materials into usable products or raw materials for other manufacturers. SAIT is partners with the City of Calgary, as well as Green Calgary, to manage recyclables in an environmentally and fiscally responsible manner. The vast majority of paper and cardboard collected locally is recycled for reuse at paper companies within Alberta.
Audrey Beadling, manager of operations and facilities management at SAIT, says that SAIT is doing a number of things to reduce its waste and consumption. According to Beadling, SAIT recycles quite a few things, including paper, cardboard, bottles and cans, printer toner cartridges, electronic equipment, batteries, scrap metal, cooking oil, paint, bricks, concrete, flooring, and construction waste.
“We also add new environmentally friendly features to new campus buildings, and whenever a building is renovated,” said Beadling. “A good example of this is the new Trades and Technology complex.”
The new buildings include low-flush toilets, hands-free low flow faucets, and light censors that shut off automatically and only come on if someone is in the room.
“We hope to include these features in every building on campus within the next two to three years,” said Beadling.
SAIT’s future maintenance plans also include monitored outdoor sprinkler systems used for irrigation on the grounds, ecologically friendly fertilizers, LEED Silver compliant cleaning products, and reducing the use of aerosols.
In terms of water usage on campus, SAIT’s current maintenance program plan is to install low flush water closets for all toilets on campus, install reverse osmosis water dispensers to eliminate the use of bottled water, and hands free low flow faucets, in each building on campus.
SAIT is also currently installing Eco flushometers on existing washroom fixtures, starting in the Senator Burns building, which will reduce water consumption by approximately 80 per cent. The bathrooms all over the SAIT campus also use 100 per cent recycled fiber hand towels that are green seal certified.
SAIT plans to implement power plant initiatives to improve efficiency, reduce consumption, and monitor and readjust output more accurately. As required, incandescent light bulbs are replaced with CFL bulbs, and T12 tubes are replaced with T8, T5, and LED lights.
“SAIT does not profit off of the recycling plan,” says Beadling, “We recycle for the love of it.”
Management facilities at SAIT say that the recycling plan was put into place in an attempt to keep waste generated on campus out of the Calgary landfills, as a part of a commitment to environmental sustainability.
Not everyone on campus believes that SAIT’s recycling plan is so efficient.
Nick Halding, a second-year Environmental Technology student living in residence was confused by the lack of recycling bins in his building.
“Why is there no plastic and glass recycling? I don’t really want to have to throw my recycling in the garbage. It’s really frustrating.”
There are recycling bins on every floor in Begin Tower and on the first floor of East Hall.
In the Tower, the bins are located adjacent to the common rooms across from suite 18 on each floor. So for example, if you’re on the 15th floor, the recycling bins are located across the hall from room 1518.
“We do not currently recycle plastic or glass, however we are in the process of speaking with a few large recycling companies about creating a more encompassing waste removal plan,” said Beadling,. “We are hoping to come up with a recycling plan for SAIT that will lead to a more sustainable future.”
“We are looking to bring everything under one umbrella, instead of having different departments managing specific types of recycling all over campus. By doing this, we’ll hopefully be able to start recycling even more, including plastic and glass,” said Beadling, “Our updated recycling program should hopefully be put into action by the end of the year.”
According to Environment Canada, paper and paper products account for more than a third of all Canada’s waste.
The City of Calgary’s long-term goal is to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills to just 20 per cent, and recycling or recovering 80 per cent of waste materials by the year 2020. However, we have a long way to go; currently, the numbers are the other way around —waste to the landfills is 80 per cent, while the percentage of recycling is only at 20 per cent.