R4 Struggles

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In mid-February of 2005, the staff assistants of the R4 Recycling Program were informed that "summer employment commitments past June 30th" will not be guaranteed until "a final decision is made by Vice Chancellor Nosek" regarding the future structure of the R4 Recycling Program. After hearing this statement, the R4 Staff Assistants coordinated an effort to try to find out the facts about the future of the R4 Recycling Program.

The Press Release below contains the initial information that the R4 Staff Assistants have gathered from various University personnel. Currently, a draft proposal detailing the changes that are proposed for the program is being circulated amongst University personnel who may be affected by any dramatic changes to the campus recycling program. However, the R4 Staff Assistants have not received a copy of this proposal.

We are continuing to seek information regarding the proposal, and changes that may result. Updates on this situation will be posted to this site as more information is gathered.

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Press Release

March 8, 2005

After suffering a series of cuts over the past few years, the R4 Recycling Program now faces restructuring and decentralization. Currently, R4 operates the majority of the indoor recycling on the UCD campus, in addition to coordinating educational outreach and recycling expansion programs. Some of R4’s programs include Recycle Mania, Freshman Move-In and Move-out, Rescued Resource Exchange, Striving for Zero Waste Events, Styrofoam Recycling, Eco Olympics, multi-bin program which recycles batteries, CD's, inkjets, and cell phones, and Construction and Demolition, which diverted over 9,000 cubic yards of waste last year and helps campus building projects achieve LEED standards. Much of this will not continue if the recycling program is restructured.
In the past, recycling on the UC Davis campus has faced a series of setbacks. The Program Coordinator job, traditionally held by a UCD student or recent graduate, has remained unfilled for the past six months due to a lack of funding for the position. Most recently, the program’s request to purchase uniforms for several new student employees was denied. With no official University waste reduction or recycling policy supported by the administration, R4 has struggled for years to maintain high waste diversion rates.
The R4 Recycling Program is now facing what may be the most devastating blow to a program that has gained national recognition. Before the end of the month, a proposal written primarily by personnel from Operations and Maintenance and the Office of Accounting and Financial Services will be sent to Vice Chancellor of Administration Stan Nosek for review. Vice Chancellor Nosek will most likely make a decision about the fate of the program in April. The proposal includes plans to shift indoor recycling collection to the Custodial division, during a time when custodians are out of contract and on the edge of a strike.
The draft of this proposal is currently being circulated for editing among the heads of the departments that this proposal will affect. However, it has not been shared with the R4 Staff Assistants as of this writing. The following information about the proposal has been gained through communication with various University personnel.
The R4 Recycling Program currently consists of one Program Manager, about 20 Staff Assistants, and several Interns. Under the proposal, the position of “R4 Recycling Program Manager” will no longer exist. A public statement issued by the current Program Manager, states that “summer employment commitments past June 30th” cannot be guaranteed until “a final decision is made by Vice Chancellor Nosek.”
Under the proposal, the numerous programs that R4 maintains will be decentralized, meaning that the recycling operations would most likely be disconnected from any educational and promotional component. In addition, programs may not be coordinated under the same department, nor may they all exist after the restructuring. Several projects will be specifically evaluated by Vice Chancellor Nosek, including Zero Waste events, Styrofoam recycling and an office composting pilot project. If student employment is retained, positions will likely be dispersed throughout separate departments. Under a decentralized structure, any coordination of programs, sharing of information, and use of equipment needed to conduct many of R4’s programs will be limited.
Many departments, such as Custodial, are very open to the concerns of R4 Staff Assistants. They agree that a recycling unit works best when it is centralized and there is a direct connection between operations and education/promotion. A centralized structure is crucial to the success of a recycling program. Providing education on recycling and promoting involvement empowers individuals to do their part in helping the campus environment. Combining the jobs of educators, promoters, and recycling collectors, creates highly informed staff who can better address questions related to recycling. Currently, the R4 Staff Assistants have the advantage of being able to promote education about recycling to the campus community through talking with individuals as we do our collections. This type of communication is invaluable to the success of the recycling program.
In order to ensure the sustainability of such a program, it is imperative to receive direct funding from the Office of Administration. The programs and services that R4 Recycling provides should not continue to be the financial responsibility of one department, but rather should be funded directly from the Office of Administration as part of a commitment to environmental stewardship.
At the end of last quarter the ASUCD Senate unanimously passed Resolution # 7 that urged such a commitment. It is not the responsibility of ASUCD to pick up the slack of an administration not devoted to sustainable practices. However, as shown in the past through programs such as Project Recycle, we are confident that ASUCD will take action if the Administration does not.
Project Recycle, an ASUCD unit, was adopted by the UCD administration in 1991, when it became what is now the R4 Recycling Program. The administration’s early support of the recycling program was based on a verbal commitment to recycling and waste reduction at UCD, and on making a “good faith effort” to meet state waste diversion goals. In recent years, the administration has failed to keep this commitment, as the University has not been able to achieve the same high diversion rates since loosing the bailer and coordinator positions. This trend of declining diversion rates will continue under the new proposal.
In order for the University to reach its stated goals, and maintain its commitment to ASUCD, recycling must not be decentralized. The R4 Recycling Program must maintain its current centralized structure of handling both operational and educational components of campus recycling and waste reduction. The R4 Recycling Program must remain under Operations and Maintenance to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the program. The University must commit to recycling and waste reduction by adopting a campus wide recycling policy under the Office of Administration. This policy was submitted to the administration over a year ago and holds the University to the same standards as other state institutions of reaching 50% diversion by 2006 as sanctioned by California AB 75.
In order to ensure the goals of this policy are met, ensure that the costs of this campus service is not borne by a single department, and to validate the stated goals of the University, the Office of Administration must provide direct funding for the Recycling Program. In addition, the full-time Program Manager position must be retained, and at least one part-time Student Coordinator position must be restored for the University to prove its commitment to being an environmentally responsible institution.

The following quotes represent the official opinions of the University:

The Vision of the Office of Administration states: “We support a safe and environmentally responsible working environment.” [WWW]http://vcadmin.ucdavis.edu/vision/
The Campus Strategic Plan indicates the “transformation to a more sustainable campus in terms of energy consumption, resource utilization, waste generation and environmental impact” as an “indicator of achievement” for the campus [WWW]http://strategicplan.ucdavis.edu/plan.html
Public statement from the R4 Recycling Program Manager given on February 15, 2005: "I along with my OOA management colleagues are reviewing the R4 program to determine ways to fully develop and optimize the management and handling the campus waste stream especially the salvage and confidential paper program. I can't make any summer employment commitments past June 30th until a final decision is made by VC Nosek regarding our recommendations and findings. We are working hard to complete this analysis and will have a report to him soon. Barring any unforeseen circumstances he should be issuing a decision in the next 60 days."
"UC President Robert Dynes told more than 300 UC alumni and friends...that it is their job 'to make UC the most innovative, risk-taking institution in the world. So go out there and do it. It is UC's business to invest in the future,' Dynes told the group at a morning rally at the Sheraton Grand Hotel. 'We are taking seriously that we have to think about California for the next 15 to 20 years.'" [From Dateline, Feb 25, 2005 “Advocates converge on Sacramento for UC day,” front page] [WWW]http://www.dateline.ucdavis.edu/dl_detail.lasso?id=8155

2009-03-17 21:49:18   Any new updates on this? Last page edit was in 2005. —MaryLieth

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