The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

Investigation: Where Does North High’s Recycling Actually Go?

Rumors have been circulating that North High does not actually recycle the content of its bins placed around school grounds, and Guide Post Daily is on the case to truly uncover the mystery of North High’s recycling. Hear concerns from the student body and an exclusive interview with North High’s head custodian, Christopher Vecchio, to learn more.

High school students today are more eco-conscious than ever. With activism to go green from high schoolers all over mainstream media, it would just be common sense that high schools would be the site of mass recycling and eco-friendly practices. However, North High students and faculty have been concerned about the legitimacy of the school’s recycling program, and the rumors spreading like wildfire are truly wild.

“I remember one time in Dr. Eckers’ AP U.S. Government class, I went to throw a Hal’s watermelon flavored seltzer bottle into the recycling bin, but a classmate suddenly stopped me to ask where the recycling actually went,” senior Ryan Cho said. “I thought about it for a while and had the revelation that I had no idea where the recycling in the school was going, and it was truly one of the shocking moments of all time.”

“The recycling at North is hardly regulated and it seems like everything that is recycled goes back into the cafeteria food,” junior Isaac Yan said.

“I haven’t seen our school actually recycle. The recycling bins are always empty but the trash bins are always full of random stuff,” junior Jeremy Shiu said.

North High’s student body has been concocting creative rumors about how the recycling program isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but Guide Post Daily had to find the truth out for themselves. Managing Editor Gloria Hsia interviewed North High’s head custodian Christopher Vecchio to get his professional view on the topic and dispel the rumors:

Hsia: I have a few questions for you… could you please briefly describe North High’s recycling program?

Vecchio: The recycling program at North High, it started approximately 15 years ago. We have a plastic and paper recycle bin in every room in the building. Couple days a week, the custodian crew empties them out as they’re separated, and we dispose of them in the dumpsters in the parking lot. From there, twice a week, the town will come and pick them up and they bring them to the landfill in the appropriate place and they recycle them as needed.

An example of a recycling sorting plant at a landfill (Credit: wipeout.ie).

Hsia: So, to your knowledge, do people place the right garbage and recycling in their respective bins?

Vecchio: Sometimes. Sometimes there’s just regular garbage in either the paper or the plastic bin and sometimes there is paper in the plastic bin. So, sometimes, it does get mixed up. Unfortunately, when that happens, we cannot recycle the stuff, it has to go into the regular trash and it has to go to the regular landfill. So basically, once a recycle bin is contaminated with regular trash, it cannot be recycled correctly.

Hsia: So is that manually sorted here, when the town picks it up, or at the landfill itself?

Vecchio: It’s sorted at the recycle plant at the landfill, it’s sorted out.

Hsia: Ah, okay, I see. To clarify, how many bins do we usually have? We have respective bins for paper, for regular garbage, and for plastic, right, so there are three?

Vecchio: Yes, there’s one trash bin and two recycle bins.

Hsia: And so, if any of those two recycle bins are contaminated with garbage, then everything goes into the garbage?

Vecchio: Yes, they all go into the regular garbage, correct.

Hsia: So they’re all dumped into one garbage bin here, picked up by the town, but only sorted at the recycling plant in the landfill itself?

Great Neck Village’s website on their 2024 Sanitation Schedule, including pick up days and programs to improve recycling efforts for the town (Credit: greatneckvillage.org).

Vecchio: Yes, I don’t know exactly how they sort it out, but there are certain plastics and papers that can and cannot be recycled, and so they’ll go to different areas.

Hsia: Right, and so in the plant, it’s sorted further there?

Vecchio: Yes, I don’t know exactly how they sort it out, but there are certain plastics and papers that can and cannot be recycled, and so they’ll go to different areas.

Hsia: Okay, yeah, that makes sense. So, what is the recycling plant itself?

Vecchio: Sorry, we don’t actually know anything further than what happens in the school itself. If you want more detail on that, the town can be of assistance and… Jamaica Ash is our company itself. The company can give you more information on what happens after it leaves us.

Jamaica Ash, a trash and recycling pickup company servicing many Great Neck neighborhoods, has a website outlining their business practices (Credit: jamaicaash.com).

Hsia: So the dumpsters are all in the parking lot, yes?

Vecchio: Yes, the three dumpsters are in the parking lot, and they’re clearly labeled plastic/glass, paper/cardboard, and regular trash.

Hsia: Alright, thanks so much, this has been really helpful!

Vecchio: Yes, of course. It is sort of boring but unfortunately, if any of the recycling bins are contaminated within the school itself, whether be it by accident or whatever happens, we can’t really do anything with that.

Hsia: Yes of course, that makes a lot of sense. We’re investigating for Guide Post Daily about how there have been rumors that North High doesn’t actually recycle. People have been saying that we just have the bins and they all end up going together into the garbage, so we did want to clarify that.

Vecchio: Yeah, so we do recycle. We do have the bins, like I said. The custodial staff has no control over who puts things where, that’s up to the students and faculty themselves. Unfortunately, people contaminate the bins fairly often.

Hsia: Yeah, I understand, there’s not much that can be done about that. I do know that some rooms, sometimes, there’s only one bin and there’s occasional mix-ups, so people just end up throwing everything into one bin and they all end up contaminated like you said.

Vecchio: And it does happen, and it’s probably by accident because the garbage bin is there and it’s better to throw it in the bin than to throw it on the floor, of course. Unfortunately, it does occur on a rather frequent basis.

Hsia: Yes, of course. Well, this has been enlightening, thanks for meeting with me!

Vecchio: Okay! Nice to meet you, good luck with the rest of your research, have a great day!

There you have it folks: as it turns out, there’s a lot more we can do as students and faculty to help out the custodial staff to recycle more consistently, and it all starts with properly disposing of recycling and trash in their respective bins so as to not contaminate them. Jamaica Ash frequently works as garbage and recycling disposal companies for many residents’ home recycling, so it really does end up the same as your trash and recycling bin at home, unless we continue to be careless or accidentally contaminate our bins. To learn more, feel free to do your own research on your home recycling’s final destination!

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About the Contributors
Gloria Hsia, Managing Editor
Gloria Hsia is one of Guide Post’s managing editors. She is an officer of several clubs, including DECA and Art Club. In addition, she plays doubles on the girls’ badminton team. Outside of school, Gloria enjoys doing various mediums of art, reading random books, and contemplating existential questions in her free time. She also likes anything space related (and Highland Cows).
Johnathan Ahdout, Managing Editor
ohnathan is one of Guide Post’s managing editors. He is the co-president of TV North and part of North High’s Science Olympiad team. He enjoys filmmaking, and spends his time SAT tutoring, or researching something he went on a tangent about during his schoolwork. He is passionate about working on any form of media, especially Guide Post.

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