Currently, Oxford has no plans to bring back curbside recycling pickup in 2021, according to Alderman Jason Bailey.
“We don’t have it in the next year’s budget, so it will not be [available] for 2021, but it may be looked at for 2022,” Bailey said.
In April, the Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to suspend curbside recycling pickup as a cost-saving measure.
”At the time when we were faced with COVID and the unknowns about taxes and tax income, it was the right thing to do for the city,” Bailey said.
Oxford Recycling Coordinator Michelle Robinson said the city is processing about 30% less recycling material since curbside pickup was suspended. According to Robinson, no city workers have been furloughed at this time, but two employees did move to garbage collection.
“We are fortunate that the residents of Oxford are dedicated to recycling,” Robinson said. “We have some that have stopped, but I believe most of them are using the dropoff locations.”
Though the city is not offering curbside pickup, Robinson said she wants people to know that the recycling center is still open and accepts material drop offs. Still, she wishes more recycling drop off locations were available around the county to make recycling services more accessible.
Libby Archer, the Associated Student Body principle of sustainability, said that sustainability efforts on campus have largely come to a standstill.
“The big thing with COVID is single-use plastics,” Archer said, referring to dining services. “And there’s nothing that we can really do about it,” she said.
Archer said that while there are large recycling and compost receptacles around campus and recycling sorting bins in each dorm and academic building, the bins are not emptied regularly.
Last school year, she was part of an effort to get recycling bins placed on each floor of every residence hall to make recycling easier, but this plan was never implemented because of the evacuation of students from campus in the spring.
“People are more worried about COVID than the environment, but we are trying to use that,” Archer said. “People are thinking about their impact on a more global scale with COVID … We’re trying to bounce off that in terms of personal impact on one’s society and one’s community as a way of illustrating sustainability.”
Archer said she thinks that more students would recycle on campus if they had more direct ways to do it. She also wants to see Greek houses providing more ways to recycle because more students are depending on Greek life for food and the houses are producing more waste.
“(Faculty and administration) discount students and don’t think they are interested in making Ole Miss greener, but I think that students really are interested in that and want to help,” Archer said. “They just need to be given the abilities to make greener and better decisions — not just for Ole Miss but our larger community.”
Lila Osman, a sophomore and the sustainability chair for Kappa Delta sorority, said she is advocating for the use of ceramic dishes and metal silverware instead of disposal plastic utensils, but that these efforts have been hindered by the pandemic.
“With so many people getting to-go plates because only so many people can be in the house at once, we have had to go back to styrofoam — it’s upsetting but also out of our control,” Osman said.