College seizes opportunity in recycling

By Justin David Tate

The college has taken its recycling into its own hands, and could save as much as $4,000 a year in the process.

When Waste Management terminated its recycling services with the Dallas County Community College District last month, Eastfield Director of Facilities Michael Brantley saw it as an opportunity.

“It doesn’t make good sense to pay somebody to pick up your recycling,” Brantley said. “I’m going to pay you, plus you can take the commodity and make some money off of it. Does that make sense? We don’t need to pay somebody to do that.”

Waste Management acquired the district’s previous recycling partner, Greenstar Recycling in September 2013.  Although Waste Management was a different company, they still had to follow Greenstar’s contract.

“They viewed it as unprofitable and it didn’t work out,” math professor Terrance Wickman said. “[I think] they’ve found a loophole in the contract.”

Waste Management is accustomed to using a front-end loader, a truck that would go to each campus to pick up one large mechanical dumpster for all the recycling. The recycling is separated later.

“When one company acquires another one, there are certain things that they have to go by legally,” Eastfield Purchasing Coordinator Dee Crawford.

Greenstar required Eastfield to separate its own recycling. Then picked up individual totes around campus. Eastfield’s main campus alone had 14 bins.

The fuel costs and extra manpower required to pick up totes from each campus prompted Waste Management to end the contract and attempt to renegotiate with the district, but that doesn’t matter to Brantley.

He has devised a plan for Eastfield to distribute its own recycling.

“When we lost the contract, it didn’t hurt us; it helped us,” Brantley said. “We don’t use them anymore. Not only that, we’re better prepared because we separate our commodities to begin with, and we weigh our own stuff so we know what’s going out of our campus. I’m glad they’re gone.”

Shredded white paper goes to a company called Iron Mountain. Scrap metal and aluminum cans go to Lake June Scrap Metals. Cooking oil goes to a community program called Cease the Grease that turns the oil into biodiesel fuel. AbiBow Recycling pays the college to pick up its newspapers.

Eastfield’s cardboard goes to the city of Mesquite for free, but Brantley plans to get a bailer, a device that compacts cardboard for sale, so the college can start making money off cardboard as well.

The custodial team weighs the recycling weekly and takes down the numbers.

The only thing left to find a vendor for is books and plastic bottles, and Brantley believes he’s found a few potential vendors in Garland. He believes he’ll have that taken care of in about a week.

Even if he doesn’t, the recycling room in the N building is far from full, Brantley said.

He sees contract termination as a blessing to the campus.

“The only reason why we’re being charged for recycling is that they had to come out and pick it up,” Brantley said. “Now if we have our resources in line, we just take the stuff ourselves.”

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