Mini-bins make big difference


With the opening of the new North Paseo Building in November 2011 came UTSA’s introduction to the mini-bin – small trash receptacles that attach to the side of recycling bins. These .75 gallon containers take the place of a typical seven-gallon trash can.

“We were finding that a lot of recyclable materials were actually being put into trash cans. Now it’s hard to put (recyclables) in (the mini-bin). It makes you stop and think,” Richard Garza, UTSA environmental and construction safety manager said.

The mini-bins were designed with lids to remind users that the bins are not for ordinary trash. The lids also prevent unknowing passersby from tossing in non-recyclable material.

All recycling bins on campus are single-stream, meaning that all recyclable material can go into one container.

There are only a few items that are not allowed in the bins.

“Liquids, Styrofoam and food (cannot be recycled). Everything else has a recycling capability, including trash bags,” Garza said.

Paper makes up the majority of recyclable material in the offices where the bins are located.

So far, the North Paseo Building is the first and only building to incorporate the mini-bin program, but the plan is to put the bins into every building on campus by the end of 2013.

“Introducing the program as they’re moving in (to the North Paseo Building) allowed us to get away from the old way of thinking and it worked out great,” Garza said. “Everybody seems to be responding very positively towards the program.”

Each month a new building will incorporate the program as the budget for the recycling program allows.

When the recycling program began in 2005, only toner cartridges were recycled. Over the years, and with the help of student organizations like the Student Government Association and The Movement, UTSA has been recycling more and more types of materials.

“We never stop thinking about how the university can improve sustainability efforts,” Garza said.

The recycling program is also represented at orientation so incoming students can learn about it right away.

The UTSA recycling program is run by Garza and safety specialists Israel Falcon and Anastacio Alvarez.

For a more detailed list of recyclable materials or more information about the recycling program, visit