I always try to do my part to conserve the environment, whether that be purchasing a recycling bin for my apartment, using reusable plastic items or simply educating others about the importance of making environmentally conscious choices.
So, I was dismayed when I learned that The Edge, an apartment complex leased by the university on 15th Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue, does not recycle.
While the building is independent of Temple, the university leases several floors for students. This means Temple should take some responsibility for the building’s environmental negligence. The university should refuse to lease with the apartment complex until it implements a recycling policy.
Temple has already made efforts to create environmentally responsible business partnerships, and there’s no reason The Edge should be any different.
The university began its 15-year contract with food service provider Aramark last May — and in the fall, Aramark announced it would bring its sustainability platform to Main Campus and work with the university to implement it.
Aramark’s sustainability efforts are a part of a university-wide trend, Michael Scales, the associate vice president of business services, told The Temple News in October 2017.
“The majority of the companies that the university selects to do business with do have a sustainability focus or commitment,” Scales said.
And with Temple’s promised commitment to sustainable food service, there is no reason to overlook The Edge’s environmental negligence. The Edge also must accept responsibility for its lack of a recycling policy, especially with the ever-growing need to conserve and protect our environment. If students are willing to reduce their waste, The Edge should be eager to facilitate. And Temple should continue pursuing The Edge to do so.
Ajiri Ekpebe, the general manager at The Edge, said the apartment complex stopped recycling because students were confused. But they have plans to implement something in the future and want to educate about it more.
Aidan Riley, a sophomore exercise and sports science major, is a resident at The Edge and said the lack of recycling to be reckless.
“[The Edge] should do more,” Riley said. “They don’t do anything at all. All we have is the trash room.”
Temple’s Office of Sustainability has reached out to The Edge multiple times to push them to consider a recycling policy. But representatives from the Office of Sustainability have tried to work with management from The Edge with little success.
“I don’t think it will change until Temple owns The Edge,” Riley said. “As long as The Edge is privately owned, it will continue to suck.”
And if that’s the case, the university needs to further pressure the complex to change its policy.
A few weeks ago, the Office of Sustainability kicked off this year’s recycling challenge as a part of the annual RecycleMania, a competition that invites colleges campuses across the country to “waste less and recycle more,” according to the office’s website.
This year, for extra motivation, Temple students were asked to post photos on social media of themselves recycling with the hashtag #TURecycles. The student who posts the photo with the most likes will earn free tickets to a Sixers NBA game.
It is disappointing that, while the university promotes such an extraordinary event for sustainability, it still partners with a housing facility that refuses to comply with an effort as simple as recycling. Although it is not Temple’s responsibility to enforce recycling at The Edge, it should consider terminating its contract with the facility if its recycling practices contradict the university’s.
Recycling offers benefits to the environment and people themselves. But in the U.S., we still aren’t recycling enough. According to Recycle Across America, recycling is “collapsing” due to an inconsistent education to the public about recyclable materials. A study from Yale University and the Environmental Protection Agency found that current recycling levels have fallen below 22 percent.
Temple should continue to push The Edge to implement a recycling policy. And if The Edge refuses to comply, the university should consider any involvement with the facility.
“I’ve been in conversation with [Kathleen Grady, the director of the Office of Sustainability] and she’s definitely down to work out more sustainable solutions at the building,” said Bridget Fisher, a junior marketing major and the president of Students for Environmental Action.
Fisher believes that increasing recycling education is important. She said the university’s recycling policy needs to be strengthened, and it should demand The Edge follow suit.
Temple has already demonstrated its commitment to sustainability. The Office of Sustainability has done a commendable job instituting programming to promote recycling on Main Campus. But if the university still contracts with facilities that refuse to recycle, then these efforts seem lackluster.
UPDATED: This story was updated to include additional comment from The Edge.