Sutherland is due to receive new recycling bins this week under the Green Campus initiative. A small group of committed students have been liaising with Estate Services since the last academic year to arrange for the installation of 8 new recycling bins, as well as two compost bins at the café and the upstairs kitchen. The law school is being treated as a pilot for the scheme, meaning that if the recycling is proven to work there, the bins should be rolled out to other faculties.

While this news is obviously a reason to smile, it seems like too little too late after the UN’s announcement on Monday that we have just 12 years to limit global warming before the effects become catastrophic. With discourse in the West turning to plant-based diets, divestment from fossil fuels and the fight against plastic, basic recycling in 2018 should be a given, but why hasn’t UCD caught up?

The short answer is money. When an institution is found to have continually sent contaminated bins for recycling, they can be faced with heavy fines and the service may be discontinued. This is what has happened in the past when recycling bins were introduced on campus. Following student campaigning, the ag building had recycling bins installed several years ago, however, due to the incorrect sorting of waste and contamination of the bins, the project was not carried over to other buildings. It would cost around €1 million to bring in campus-wide recycling; a figure the university is prepared to spend if they can be assured it will be done right. It’s crucial then that the Sutherland project goes well if recycling is to expand in UCD.

The usual cause of contamination is people mistakenly placing coffee cups in the recycling bins; spilling coffee over the dry paper and making it unfit for recycling. Coffee cups are lined with plastic, rendering them unfit for recycling in the first place and so need to be placed in the waste bin. In addition, soiled products cannot be recycled, e.g. wet coffee cups, a pizza box with grease stains on the bottom, the paper wrap on your chicken fillet roll from Centra. These need to go in the waste. Items suitable for recycling include paper, cardboard, hard plastics such as water bottles and aluminium cans. Make sure they’re clean and dry first, and if you’re in doubt put them in the waste bin rather than contaminating the recycling bin.

Recycling is the first step towards making UCD green, and it’s long overdue. Let’s make sure we get it right so that we can move on to bigger and better projects.


By Matthew Mollahan –  News Writer, Green Campus