After 40 years of serving the community, Associated Students, Inc.’s Recycling Center has closed

Imagine walking into class to the smell of days-old Kombucha, protein shakes and milk.
While most may find the foul odor dissatisfying, to Noah Beller it was the smell of a hard day’s work. Even though he didn’t have time to wash off before class sometimes, Beller took pride in being the “trash man.”

The fourth-year business administration major, with a focus in finance at Long Beach State, started working for the Associated Students, Inc. recycling center back in March 2019. Toward the end of the year, he was promoted to a lead position where he remained until the closure of the center in April 2020.

“Getting the news of the closure was just heart wrenching because the recycling center has been there for 40 years,” Beller said. “Just knowing that it was going to close down, [that] we were going to be the last generation to work there, is just honestly terrible.”

Beller got to know many of the regular folks that used the recycling center on a first-name basis, many of whom were homeless and trying to make a living by exchanging recyclable materials for some cash.

“I never wore a nametag, and they still knew who I was,” Beller said. “I thought this was a great system because we would make sure that the materials that they brought in were being recycled. They were cleaning up and they got money for CRV.”

ASI Executive Director Miles Nevin said that the recycling center was bringing in $700,000 a year in revenue. However, over the past 10 years the center had been losing money as expenses were higher than their revenue.

“That means that student fee dollars, ASI student fee dollars, are going towards something that is not bringing back additional revenue for other programming,” Nevin said. “It wasn’t a program that was any longer serving a majority of students.”

According to last year’s ASI student fee breakdown, only 2.2% of funding was geared towards the recycling center making it the lowest funded program.

Aside from this, the coronavirus pandemic was one of the main causes of the closure of the recycling center.

“COVID was a nail in our coffin,” Nevin said. “When COVID happened in early March, it just really hurt the recycling center budget. We just had to close.”

According to CSULB’s sustainability website, the campus takes pride in its commitment to promoting sustainability through campus operations as a member of the Climate Leadership Network and charter signatory to the Climate Commitment. While the recycling center is no longer open to the public, it remains a vital resource for campus sustainability.

According to Holli Fajack, CSULB’s sustainability coordinator, the area formerly occupied by the recycling center will now be used for campus waste and recycling operations operated under Beach Services.

“Our department has been rolling out, for the last couple years, a zero-waste program,” Fajack said. “We’re adding recycling bins inside buildings, and also adding more recycling bins outside of buildings.”

In place of the recycling center, CSULB is offering service in which recyclable waste is being picked up by facility staff across campus and transported back to the recycling center’s location. The materials are then picked up by a hauler to be taken to a recycling facility, Fajack said.

“The recycling center was a unique attribute of our campus,” Fajack said. “It was a symbol of our commitment to sustainability and ASI’s commitment to recycling, but just because it’s not there anymore doesn’t mean that those things don’t exist.”

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