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Eddy Street retailers begin recycling

Madeline Buckley and Sam Stryker | Friday, February 25, 2011

For nearly eight months, Jonathan Lutz, owner of The Mark restaurant in Eddy Street Commons, has lugged bags of recyclable waste from his restaurant to his home recycling unit in order to salvage as much reusable waste as possible.

The restaurateur, who also owns Uptown Kitchen in Granger, said there have been no affordable recycling options in the Commons — a joint project of the University and the city that opened in 2009. To make his business somewhat eco-friendly, Lutz has recycled from home since the restaurant’s opening in August 2010.

“It’s been one of my greatest frustrations,” Lutz said of the work it takes to carry the waste between work and home.

Eddy Street Commons finally received two recycling receptacles on Feb. 22 to be collected once a week. Kite Realty, the developer of the facility, will increase frequency as demand dictates. The University has worked closely with Kite on developing the Commons as a student-friendly commercial area.

Lori Wick, director of marketing for Kite Realty, said while the apartments at Eddy Street Commons have offered recycling options since the facility opened in August 2009, the retail and office components were not able to recycle due to space issues.

“While it was always the intent to have a recycling program in place for the retail and office components at opening, the challenge of executing this initiative was not thoroughly addressed until recently,” she said.

Gregory Hakanen, director of Asset Management and Real Estate Development, said the University recently became aware that the businesses in the Commons have not been recycling.

Hakanen said Kite Realty has full responsibility for managing the development. The University plays no role in decisions like recycling, he said.

“Having said that, the University is committed to green principles on and off campus, and we are pleased that Kite has launched its recycling program for commercial tenants at Eddy Street Commons,” he said.

Wick said the company has been working for several months to implement recycling with the help of service provider Waste Management. She said Kite expects tenants to participate in the service.

“Eddy Street Commons will require all tenants to recycle as part of its initiative to ‘Go Green,'” Wick said. “It’s clear that single-stream recycling is a priority and we will require all tenants to support this effort.”

Wick said Kite Realty would continue to work in cooperation with the University’s vision.

“Notre Dame sets a great example on a wide array of initiatives, including recycling and sustainability,” she said. “We look to these examples and standards as we continue to improve day-to-day operations at Eddy Street Commons.”

Some workers in the Commons say the lack of recycling up to this point has been frustrating. Despite recycling some waste from the Mark restaurant by bringing it home, Lutz said he can never recycle 100 percent of what could be recycled.

“It’s an incredible amount of work,” he said.

Nan Mullaney, an employee of the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore satellite store in the Commons, worked at the cash register during football season in the fall. She has seen all the cardboard boxes and plastic bags that held the Notre Dame apparel thrown away.

“There’s a crusher in the back where the trash is put into every night,” she said.

When she first started at the Bookstore nine months ago, recycling was one of the first issues Mullaney, a 1981 Notre Dame graduate, brought up to management.

“They just said there’s no recycling because it’s expensive,” she said.

The city of South Bend does not offer recycling for free.

“It’s egregious, just so egregious,” Mullaney said of the recyclable waste she has seen thrown away at the Bookstore for the nine months she has worked there.

Heather Christophersen, director of Sustainability at Notre Dame, said off-campus projects like Eddy Street Commons do not count toward third-party evaluations of the University, like the Sustainability Endowments Institute’s annual report card that evaluates the environmental impact of national universities. Notre Dame most recently received a B+ overall grade for sustainability efforts.

“Technically [Eddy Street Commons] is not part of campus, but because Notre Dame employees are there I’d love to be able to count their recycling and waste numbers,” Christophersen said. “So that is something we need to work out.”

Lutz said any push for recycling would be a positive change.

“If it’s the case, it’s wonderful,” he said.