A Greener CAC

Sevasti Silvia, Editor

In September of 2021, CAC formed a sustainability committee.  

Sustainability, which means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs, has recently become a concern. Climate change and water scarcity continue to affect Americans. Arizona farmers, for example, are directly impacted due to drought and water shortages that have plagued the desert in recent years. Sustainable solutions for rising problems have been developed to address these issues. 

Hugo Steincamp, CAC’s Director of Resource Development and Quality Assurance, is the chair of the sustainability committee. In an interview, Steincamp described the work of the committee as, “An opportunity for CAC to become more energy efficient and independent, conserve water, and introduce recycling at our campuses. Our work represents an opportunity for CAC to become a leader in sustainability for Pinal County.”  

Currently, the committee members are drafting a paper that details the background of sustainability, recommends projects for the college, and outlines what the committee hopes the college will do going forward. The paper will be finished by January 2022 and will be made available on the CAC website.  

The fruits of the committee’s labor are already sprouting at the Signal Peak Campus. The SPC Library now houses recycling boxes for a program called TerraCycle. 

Karen Hindhede, a Professor of English and the District Academic Chair of the Literary Arts & Languages Division, is a member of the sustainability committee. According to Hindhede, TerraCycle is “an international organization that recycles hard-to-recycle items.  Individuals or organizations can purchase specific zero waste boxes and ship them back to TerraCycle once they are filled.” 

The TerraCycle boxes at the SPC library are for bottle caps and candy wrappers. There is also a box for pens, mechanical pencils, and markers. SPC dorms will soon have boxes available for students who want to recycle their old toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, floss containers, and hair care bottles. Each box, once full of recyclable items, will then be sent back to TerraCycle, who recycles the items into renewed resources. According to Hindhede, the committee hopes to add recycling boxes to other CAC campuses in the near future.  

These recycling efforts are important due to the decrease in recycling programs offered in Arizona. The City of Casa Grande website said recycling programs were suspended on July 1, 2019. The reason for program cutbacks was a policy China enacted in 2018 “to increase the quality of the plastic waste that China was receiving,” according to the  U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine website. According to the City of Casa Grande website, prior to the policy the city was paid $18 per ton of recycled materials. That same ton would now cost them $67 to recycle.  

In addition to the efforts to bring back plastic and paper recycling resources to Arizona, the committee is working on other projects. According to Steincamp and Hindhede, it has tentative plans to introduce solar energy, animal sanctuaries, electric vehicles, and clothing resources to CAC campuses. The committee is also researching the possibility of offering a new curriculum for sustainability. It could include certifications or coursework that examines the role of equity, economics, and ecology in sustainability.  

Hindhede encourages all students to make their interest and excitement heard, “If students indicate they want more of something, the college with be receptive to that.” Later in the interview she added, “I want them to talk to their faculty, or they can reach out to me. I want to capitalize on people’s interest so that we can get TerraCycle boxes at all the campuses, and so we can have a solid sense of who wants to help.”  

The only limit to a greener CAC is the willingness of CAC’s community.  


To contact Hugo Steincamp, email [email protected] 

To contact Professor Karen Hindhede, email [email protected] 


Photo by Karen Hindhede