A.S. Recycling Leader Moves On
Barbara Kopicki, coordinator of A.S. Recycling Program, recently resigned from the program that has flourished under her direction for almost 10 years. She was in on its inception, moved from student volunteer, to activist, to full-time coordinator, and now leaves a successful education and recycling program that recycles more than 450,000 pounds of recyclables each year.
Kopicki recently married and will move to the Bay Area. She wants to leave people on campus with the awareness that every single person is responsible for choices each day regarding waste, “Whether it’s buying coffee with a reusable mug or a disposable cup, bringing lunch from home in reusable dishware as opposed to purchasing lunch in a plastic container, or reusing the back side of a piece of paper, we can all do our part,” she said. “It’s up to all of us to ’Save The World’—one person can’t do it alone. It’s too much pressure!”
Kopicki grew up in Newport Beach and came to CSU, Chico as a transfer student in 1993. Her major was liberal studies with a minor in child development and an emphasis in English as a Second Language (ESL). Her goal at the time was to teach elementary school.
During her second year on campus, she became involved with student government through the A.S. Environmental Affairs Council (EAC). She helped with a campus assessment, information tables, Earth Day events, and other projects. The A.S. Recycling Program did not exist at that time. The company now known as Waste Management serviced 22 paper locations and five outside can and bottle locations on campus.
In May 1995, she was elected commissioner of the EAC. Increasing recycling became EAC’s main goal. A student intern, Eric Ginney, and Kopicki met with University staff, A.S. staff, and Waste Management to explore how to put a new program in place. They found funding from various areas in the A.S. for a pilot program, to contract with the University for recycling services. “This took about a year to accomplish,” said Kopicki, “and was quite a challenge, both politically and logistically.
In May 1996, Kopicki was hired as a student coordinator of the A.S. Chico Recycling Program. The program assumed responsibility for the locations that Waste Management serviced, hired four students to handle collections, used a 1974 Ford pickup with a lift gate and an old pickup truck, and added food kitchen scraps to the collection list.
Kopicki graduated in May 1997 and continued running the program on a part-time paid basis, and the program steadily grew. A student union fee increase in 1998 of $10 was allocated to Recycling, Adventure Outings, A.S. Presents, and the Office of Financial Aid. This funding was crucial in securing the future of A.S. Recycling on campus.
In 1998, Kopicki was hired as a full-time career employee. She started an intern program that included students from various majors and now provides 10–15 students with internships each semester. There are two 10-month paid positions. The list of what they do is impressive: plan compost workshops, participate in America Recycles Day, sponsor a recycling contest, various clean-up projects, Scour and Devour, Diversion Excursion, and Adopt-A-Block. They sponsor speaker visits and write funding proposals.
Kopicki considers her largest accomplishments to be acquiring consistent funding and developing strong relationships and partnerships with the campus community, the City of Chico, Butte County, and other off-campus groups.
Kopicki and A.S. Recycling have worked with the University through the Campus Conservation Committee, whose task it is to reduce waste in order to meet AB 75 goals. While A.S. Recycling focuses on beverage containers and paper, the University participates by recycling green waste, construction and demolition debris, and surplus equipment.