Facilities Feature: Joan Hicken

Joan Hicken

Joan Hicken, Waste Reduction and Recycling Department Coordinator, will celebrate her first-year anniversary with the University in June. Previously, Joan was the recycling coordinator for the city of Philadelphia where she developed programs to increase tonnage, diversion, and participation in the City's recycling programs. Before that, she was the city of Glendale, Arizona’s recycling coordinator where she administered and supervised recycling and waste stream programs as part of the city's solid waste management operations.

What are your responsibilities as the Waste Reduction and Recycling Coordinator for Auburn?

I coordinate recycling and waste reduction programs for the University. My areas of concentration are currently campus building recycling, residential hall recycling, and community partnerships.

What do you enjoy about your position?

Auburn University is a great place to work. I enjoy working in a dynamic environment and collaborating with my co-workers.

How much did the University recycle last year?

Last year, the University recycled 326 tons of paper, 218 tons of cardboard, and 68 tons of containers (plastic bottles, aluminum cans, steel cans). Paper and cardboard recycling efforts saved 5,556 barrels of oil, enough to fill an average-sized automobile’s gas tank 7,038 times. Paper recycling also saved 2,282,980 gallons of water, enough for 45,660 10-minute showers. Container recycling saved 455,827 kWh of electricity, enough to power an average home for 15,614 days. Recycling diverted 27 percent of campus-generated material from landfills.

The University's recycling program was established in 2005 and became the Waste Reduction and Recycling Department in 2008. The Department manages all waste contracts on campus and provides recycling services to the university community.

Why is recycling important for the AU campus or community?

Recycling has both environmental and economic impacts for the University. Recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills, conserves natural resources, and saves energy. Recycling also supplies valuable raw materials to industry, helps create jobs, and boosts the economy.

A new Recycling and Service Support Facility has been approved by the Board of Trustees to be built at the Facilities Management Complex. How will this help your department?

This move presents an opportunity to gain operational efficiencies. Currently, recycling bins for mixed paper and commingled containers, located outside buildings across campus, are swapped out (empty for full) and transported to a holding area. The material is further consolidated by type. This process is onerous and inefficient. A tipper cart will allow operations to empty full recycling bins on-site and transport more recyclables to a compactor at the new facility. The new facility will have space for two compactors (one compactor for mixed paper/cardboard and one compactor for commingled containers). This process will save time and labor, increase operational efficiencies, and lead to the collection of more recycling.

Away from work, what hobbies or interests do you have?

I enjoy traveling to local, national, and international destinations. I also enjoy the arts, reading, being with family, listening to music, and visiting museums and festivals.

Last Updated: August 03, 2016