By Charlie Youngmann
For The Diamondback
When lifelong College Park resident Kathy Bryant walked along College Avenue after homecoming weekend, she said she was disappointed to see trash bags filled with plastic cups and beer cans piled along the curb.
Bryant, an Old Town resident, said she watched as the trash and recycling trucks picked up the waste, and bags of potential recyclables were all thrown in the trash.
Over the past few years, the materials accepted as recyclables by the University of Maryland have changed a little, and this has caused some confusion, said Adrienne Small, the recycling coordinator for this university's Facilities Management.
More specifically, Small said many individuals are unaware the city of College Park, as well as this university, will not accept plastic bags in recycling; this includes recyclables placed in a plastic trash bag. The city's bins also have labels informing citizens their recycling will not be accepted in a plastic bag.
Bryant, the Old Town Civic Association president, said she wants students living off the campus to pay more attention to the university's sustainability standards.
"It does feel like they don't care enough to bother to find out how to recycle properly," Bryant said. "If several thousand beer cans go into the landfill when they could have gone into the recycling, it's just a travesty for the environment."
Plastic bags are not the only issue, Bryant said. She's also seen students throw cardboard into dumpsters and leave empty cups in her neighbors' leaf piles.
There needs to be a stronger effort made to educate students on how to deal with their waste, Bryant said.
"You don't go to school just to learn about subjects," Bryant said. "You need to learn how to be a responsible citizen."
For students looking to properly dispose of cans and other recyclables in white plastic bags, Facilities Management has set up drop-off points at TerpZone or Oakland Hall, Small said.
Small said her department's efforts are mainly focused on educating students living on the campus, working closely with the Department of Resident Life to ensure every trash can also has a recycling bin alongside it.
"There's a constant need to continue the education, since the materials accepted change, and also we have student turnover every year," Small said. "We try to keep the program fresh."
As the students living off the campus also continue to change each year, the city's public works department will also leave a note if the residents fail to sort their waste properly, said Ryna Quiñones, a city spokeswoman.
Should a residence receive two of these notices within the year, Quiñones said a letter is sent to the house or landlord to further explain the issue. If residents have an issue with their recycling bins, or questions about waste management, Quiñones encouraged them to contact the city's public works department.
"On occasion, some staff actually go to set up meetings with a house or residence to better educate the students," Quiñones said. "They'll go over again how our recycling works and show them the best practices."