Recycling practices in FCPS are improving


Seniors Ellen Wray (left) and Kailey Cheng (right) hang up posters to encourage recycling.

Paola Henriquez, staff writer

In August, FCPS implemented Regulation R8541, requiring all schools to actively participate in recycling. The school system has also created programs to publicize the need to recycle, such as the Get2Green website and its corresponding YouTube Channel “FCPS Get2Green.”  

Recently, rumors have spread through the school that the recycling codes are not being followed. Some have claimed to witness custodians mixing the recycling bin materials with the trash.

“I first saw a custodian mix the trash and recycling material at the end of a club meeting after everybody had left,” junior Kimberly Schmaus said.

The circumstantial evidence that people have witnessed, however, is not indicative of what is actually happening schoolwide.

“I’ve asked a couple of custodians, and I’ve been told that if they see trash in the recycling bin, they have to treat it as trash,” AP Environmental Science teacher and Students for Environmental Awareness sponsor Anne Fenton said. “In order for us to do a good job, we have to make sure to keep the trash out.”

Custodians say the school is committed to recycling and that recyclable materials are sorted according to FCPS guidelines.

“These policies are not just enforced by the county, but also by the school’s administrators,” Assistant Building Supervisor Raul Guzman said. “We’re all attentive to make sure we recycle.”

The misunderstanding of the situation results from the fact that people see custodians pushing around large bins and assume that everything is combined, but the reality is that there are two bags in each of the bins. There is a limited amount of large bins, something that Principal Teresa Johnson is looking into fixing in the near future.

Frequently, people throw trash such as banana peels and coffee cups into the recycling bin, fouling the recyclable items and requiring custodians to remove the trash with their hands. Cleaning a school can be overwhelming and separating these items is time consuming, and custodians have many other responsibilities to attend to as well.

“We [custodians] come with the mentality that we need to have everything clean for the students for the next day to provide them a good learning environment so they can be able to focus,” Building Supervisor Gloria Arias said.

While FCPS has made progress in its recycling initiative, many people feel that more can be done to inform students on what is recyclable and to encourage recycling throughout the community.

For example, this school year, FCPS changed the lunch trays from pink styrofoam to more environmentally friendly recyclable cardboard ones. Even still, it seems that the majority of students don’t know that the new trays are recyclable. In addition, people throw away newspapers, which should also be placed in the recycling bins.

“People are so quick to toss their items into the bin but don’t acknowledge the efforts that custodians exert to sustain the community,” junior Kimberly Schmaus said. “As a whole, we all need to make an effort to be more considerate of other people’s efforts. It’s the first step to improving society.”