The new UNM Physical Plant Department (PPD) Recycling supervisor hopes this is the year where students get engaged in recycling and sustainability initiatives more than ever before. Scott George took over the recycling operation in April and sees a great potential to engage and empower students in sustainable change on the UNM campus.
“I think the students have a lot of potential power to make things happen and to change our campus for the better,” George said.
UNM diverts over 25,000 tons of recyclable material from the landfill every year. Plastics, aluminum, cardboard and paper are the usual suspects, but UNM also recycles electronic equipment, old VHS tapes, scrap metal, and many different types of batteries and light bulbs. These are all things found on a campus engaged in “very high research,” and PPD Recycling seizes every opportunity to reduce the carbon footprint of the University.
George believes in trying new things to improve processes and engagement. “This is an environment of learning, so there is little risk in trying something new,” such as more renewable energy, local farming, zero-waste and composting.
“It’s amazing to see what well-established recycling programs are doing,” George said. Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, Calif. is a good example of this well-established program. They are on the way to becoming a zero-waste campus. “We can do that! It can impact everything we do from renewable energy to waste water management,” he said.
George grew up in a home where recycling, composting and gardening was the norm. He didn’t know any different, and when he grew up and went out into the “real world,” he discovered that not everyone had the same priorities when it came to sustainable living. George explained that his priorities at UNM are to spread the word about recycling and sustainability, and work every day to convince one mind at a time that these initiatives are important and vital to our world.
An avid painter and sculptor, George earned his bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. He has taught elementary school in New Mexico and has worked at Santa Fe Community College for two years, spearheading the recycling program there. George volunteers for local organizations such as Many Mothers, Coming Home Connection, and Creative Santa Fe. He also served as a Quartermaster in the United States Coast Guard.