One man’s trash

Orange Coast College’s recently renovated Recycling Center is located on the north end of campus along Adams Avenue. It serves around 400 to 450 customers a day.

The U.S. Green Building Council recently certified the recycling center in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and also recently became the first site in California to receive SITES v2 verification under the new certification requirements, which recognizes outside landscaping and water usage.

The center is now looking to reach True Zero-Waste Certification, which requires 90 percent or better diversion of waste. The only thing the center always throws away is the plastic trash bags customers use to bring their recyclables in, according to Environmental and Sustainability Coordinator Mike Carey.

“Once we get that, we will be the first facility in the world to hold all three of those certifications,” he said.

The Recycling Center is set on five acres and features two classrooms, organic garden beds with fruits, vegetables and soon will grow Milkweed which simulates the monarch butterfly population.

The site also has offices, a conference room and men’s and women’s showers for employees to freshen up after shifts.

In October, employees and volunteers planted native flowers and plants in front of the center facing Adams Avenue. It features all Southern California native plants such as coastal sage, desert willow and California wild roses.

The facility’s interior also works to help the planet. The carpet is made out of recycled cans and bottles. Instead of standard wall-to-wall carpeting, the floor is covered in carpet tiles.

The site is sprinkled with structures and sculptures made by OCC structure and design students and spring project. A Japanese tea garden was made of reclaimed wood and stands near the garden beds. A metal Pete the Pirate made from scrap metal students found in the center stands guard in the front of the offices.

The Recycling Center takes aluminum cans, plastic bottles, scrap metals and papers. Customers can also drop off e-waste such as computers and old cell phones.

The center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Sunday is open regular hours for donations only.

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