Decatur’s Recycling Program Returns


Kylie Record

These blue bins have been placed around the school to collect paper products.

The recycling program is back at Stephen Decatur High School.

Decatur’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps Program, otherwise known as NJROTC, accepted the job of volunteering to gather the blue recycling bins on Mondays.

“It all starts with the students in the classroom, putting paper in the paper bins and emptying cans and bottles properly,” according to Mandi Wells, Decatur’s recycling advisor, testing coordinator and the co-advisor for the Surfrider Club.

“They come around with a giant rolling trash bin and collect the materials,” she added. “Then, the trash bins are set behind the cafeteria and the staff from the Worcester County landfill pick up the bins and replace them with empty ones.”

While the school’s recycling program has been in place for the past 12 years, it was put on hold for the past year and a half because of COVID-19.

When students returned back to school in September of 2020, teachers and staff were strongly advised to not use paper and with the limited amount of students in school. As a result, recycling was not prioritized.

“We were not allowed to have any papers just laying around and we were told, ‘Absolutely not,’ when it came to recycling,” Mrs. Wells said.

Another setback for the Decatur recycling program was the limited amount of  resources and man power that was required to have a efficient system. With the continuous extra tasks for custodians through the past year, bombarding them with the job of maintaining recycling was not an option, Mrs. Wells said.

The average American high school, per academic year, produces about 99 pounds of waste per student, and about 85 percent of our waste is recyclable materials, according to The Waste and Resources Action Program.

The town of Ocean City does not have curbside recycling. Ocean City is known for its tourism, reaching about 8 million tourists annually, not including year-round residents. The inconvenience of traveling out of town, through traffic, to the nearest recycling center is discouraging the act of environmental care and productivity.