New students are coming. If you can imprint positive recycling behaviors on them right away, those behaviors are likely to carry with them their entire time on campus. If you miss that window and they imprint on negative behaviors, you will spend the next 4 years overcoming that negative imprinting.
One of the trickiest parts of running recycling or sustainability on a college or university campus is education. Implementing recycling education at an institution whose very mission is education runs into a lot of potential pitfalls and conflicts.
It is this intermediate phase that seems to be the most complicated for many programs to get through. Every transition from one phase to the next takes planning and hard work. But in over 20 years of working with recycling programs, I have seen more programs get stuck in this intermediate phase of their development than any other. Some spend decades in this phase whereas others progress through it relatively quickly to get to the integrated sustainable program that they really want.