Single-stream sorts trash, recyclables

Elsa Castro, Staff Reporter

Implementing a single-stream recycling system in 2010 is one of the ways De Anza College maintains an environmentally friendly campus.

Manny DaSilva, manager of custodial operations, said that De Anza has been certified as a Green Business by the City of Cupertino for three years in a row.

The idea to use single-stream recycling at De Anza arose in 2009, when staff reductions made it difficult to perform the necessary trash pickups.

With single-stream recycling, the number of trash pickups could be reduced.

“We found that a lot of our recycle bins were being contaminated by people who dumped their non-recyclables in them,” DaSilva said. “Once it was contaminated, our old trash company would just send it to the landfill.”

Staff reductions and concerns about landfills caused De Anza custodial operations to find a solution that could benefit both the campus and the planet.

The resource recovery company Recology takes the bins, sorts out the trash, recycles and composts.

“Recology offered us the single-stream recycling system which now has us at 75% diversion from landfill,” said DaSilva.

Single-stream recycling with Recology makes sending bins to several facilities for sorting unnecessary, as Recology takes care of everything altogether.

Michelle Hua, 19, DASB environmental sustainability committee senator, said that sending bins to different facilities was problematic and less sustainable.  

DaSilva said another important benefit is fewer collection trips.

De Anza only has one garbage truck pickup a week now, after having two pickups a day without single-stream recycling. Fewer collection trips reduce the school’s carbon footprint.

Other conservation efforts at De Anza include using energy-conserving LED light bulbs, an irrigation controller that helps preserve water, solar panels and rat poison that does not have any secondary effects.

“These are things that De Anza is constantly doing that goes into the big picture,” said DaSilva. “Trash collection is one small piece of the pie.”

Johanna Berntsson, 32, marketing major, says she is glad that De Anza is focusing on these issues.

“We need to think about the environment and take care of our planet,” Berntsson said. “We only have one.”