Waste program to be evaluated

By Linda Warchal

NIU has plans for the incineration of garbage, but expert consultation is needed and safety concerns must be addressed, an NIU administrator said.

Associate Vice President of Business and Operations Patricia Hewitt said the plans for incineration are long term—about five to 10 years.

NIU now has four incinerators, but they are not up to Environmental Protection Agency standards and are not operational, Hewitt said. She said she is contacting a consultant from Power Plant Services in Ft. Wayne, Indiana to look at them.

NIU has permits for all the incinerators on campus, but only the one located at the west heating plant and the one located at the Holmes Student Center will be looked at, she said.

Hewitt said NIU will keep the recycling program and “hopefully expand it.” She said she will rely on what a consultant says before any planning is made.

“I think we need to be pro-active in our recycling in our program and in the way we dispose of waste,” Hewitt said.

Rachel Vellenga, Student Association recyling director, said she has concerns about incineration as a means of eliminating waste.

“Incineration often times releases many hazardous chemicals into the atmosphere, especially the burning of plastic,” Vellenga said.

The administration is in charge of the mixed-paper recycling and the cardboard recycling and incineration could be cheaper than what it costs to rent the bins for these products, she said.

“Currently, with the recyling programs on campus, so much is able to be recycled. I would question what is going to be burned in this incinerator,” Vellenga said.

Hewitt said paper products which have been food-contaminated could be an example of material disposed of by burning because such products usually cannot be recycled.

“I think we need to be careful about the environmental ramifications of reducing this waste by incineration,” Vellenga said.