The campus of UC Merced may not fully exist yet, or have more than 75 employees, but it will soon have bins for paper, plastic and glass.

UC Merced, the newest addition to the University of California, is expected to begin its involvement in a recycling program aimed at reducing waste this week. The recycling program, funded by a grant through the State Dept. of Conservation, will coordinate recycling efforts at its temporary location of Castle Airport, Aviation and Development Center. In addition, proceeds generated by the program will go towards scholarships for Merced County high school students planning on attending any UC campus.

Currently, UC Merced is set to open in fall of 2004. Until then, this program will be used to facilitate all the recycling needs of its 75 employees at the temporary location, UC Merced spokesperson Sheryl Wyan said.

“[The program] will be an intrinsic part of life here at UC Merced,” public programs specialist Joanna Grimes said.

The grant has been used to purchase equipment for the program, such as 40-gallon bins and smaller scrap bins. The benefit of the expanded recycling program is that it provides a place for employees to recycle a larger variety of materials, including newspaper, magazines, aluminum, plastic and glass, Wyan said.

“For the longest time, it has been hard to find a place to dump things like newspaper,” said Wyan. “Hopefully, this new program will encourage people to bring things in from home as well as around their offices.”

So far, of the $23,453 made available by the grant, $14,000 has already gone to the purchase of new equipment and recycling services. The grant only provides for one year of recycling pick-up service. After it expires, UC Merced will have to cover the costs of the program itself, Grimes said.

Ever since three environmental groups filed lawsuits against UC Merced last February on grounds of failure to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, the university has been the focus of much pressure to decrease its environmental impact during construction.

The environmental group contended the University would harm an endangered species by building over vernal pools in the Merced valley and accused the UC of filing inadequate estimates of UC Merced’s environmental impact. The UC denied the charges. On Nov. 6, the Fifth District Appellate Court denied the environmental group’s request for an injunction to halt the construction of UC Merced.

UC Merced officials hope that this recycling program will be a way to establish a conscientious environmental reputation, according to a press release issued by Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey earlier this week.

“Recycling is our responsibility, and we appreciate the support of the Merced County Association of Governments as we begin to build a strong recycling program at UC Merced,” Tomlinson-Keasey said.

While the proceeds are set to go to college scholarships, it is unknown how much money the recycling program will generate. Initial estimates were projected within the range of $100 per month, but other similar programs in nearby elementary schools have raised nearly $2,000, Grimes said.

“Often people have the misconception that through the recycling we’re making money,” Grimes said. “The truth is it’s more of a money saver than anything else.”

Students eligible for the scholarship must be residents of Merced County and provide proof of enrollment in any UC campus, Wyan said.

“We’re trying to grow a college-going culture in the area,” Wyan said. “Our goal is to help students become more aware of the opportunities around them.”