The Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Recycling Center, located on Long Beach State’s campus is one of the busiest recycling centers in Long Beach. It services CSULB’s campus and the public! It is the only CSU with a California Redemption Value (CRV) buyback center that not only helps Long Beach residents recycle, but does so efficiently.
According to the City of Long Beach’s website, every resident produces an average of 1,432 pounds of trash per year! And unlike the city’s familiar purple recycling bins, the recycling center improves one major issue: keeping everything separated.
When the wrong materials end up in those purple recycle bins, it halts the sorting process and potentially devalues recyclable material. Contaminated recyclable material is never reused and sent to the landfill, so ensuring that a load can be reused is important and requires clear separation of materials.
That’s where the ASI Recycling Center comes in!
The ASI Recycling Center was established in 1970 after the very first Earth Day by student demand. The CRV system was established in the late ‘80s, and it offers five or 10 cents, originally spent on the container at point-of-purchase, back to the consumer. It’s the reason many people recycle at buyback facilities, including the ASI Recycling Center.
“We have an extremely wide demographic,” Eric said. We have retired millionaires who come in because they just want something to do, and we have people who come in because if they don’t sell us their cans and bottles, they might not eat today. I like providing a place where we can respectfully treat both parties.”
This past August, the ASI Recycling Center processed about 8,400 pounds of aluminum, 1,500 pounds of HDPE plastic, 15,000 pounds of PET plastic, 52,000 pounds of cardboard, and 28,000 pounds of glass. Eric Bryan, the recycling coordinator at CSULB, credits the center’s efficiency to its well-established infrastructure and school’s support.
“We are fortunate enough to have the kind of funding and student support that we do, which enables us to have enough staffing to maintain a very happy atmosphere here,” Eric said.
Recently, China’s National Sword policy went into effect in February 2018, banning the importation of plastic waste and setting strict limitations on the waste China will accept. For years, the United States exported tons of trash to China, so this policy has changed the way many recycling centers operate. Some recycling centers even had to shut their doors.
Because some recycling centers in the area have closed, CSULB’s intake has increased. However, they have stopped accepting paper because they cannot guarantee the purity levels that paper is eligible to export at. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop them from trying to make a larger impact.
By 2030, CSULB wants to eliminate wasteful practices and implement more recycling streams to, ultimately, deter waste from ending up in landfills. To help reach this goal, more mixed recycling bins will be added to the exterior and interior of the campus. The bins will then be sorted out at the recycling center.
Eric jokingly admits that it’s a dirty job, but an important one at that. Out of the three “Rs” (reduce, reuse, and recycle,) he says that it’s the easiest to implement.
There are 11 students currently working at the recycling center where they handle a multitude of materials coming in from the school as well as the public.
Last year from July 2017 to April 2018, the recycling center recycled 83,925 pounds of aluminum, 149,306 pounds of PET plastic, 9,214 pounds of HDPE plastic, 380,020 pounds of glass, and 277,945 pounds of cardboard, and 142,880 pounds of mixed paper.
“I think when everything’s viewed as waste, none of it’s really cared for,” Eric said. “And if people start viewing it as a resource and understanding that by [recycling] you’re actually creating a better future.”
Keeping trash away from the beaches and off the streets involves recycling systems. One thing’s for sure, Long Beach has many residents, close to 500,000! So whether it’s a recycling center or the purple recycling bins, they help improve that all waste isn’t essentially wasted.
For more information on the ASI Recycling Center, visit their website. Another great website, https://earth911.com, helps those find a location near them to recycle any type of material including hazardous.