University installs garbage compactors in sustainability effort

| Senior News Editor

A newly installed trash compacter sits idly in Lopata Gallery. The machines were installed in the Gallery and Whispers this week.

A newly installed trash compacter sits idly in Lopata Gallery. The machines were installed in the Gallery and Whispers this week.

Garbage compactors have been placed in two locations, Stanley’s Cafe and Whispers, as part of a pilot program.

The compactors, which were designed by a Washington University alumnus, are meant to decrease the volume of the University’s trash.

According to Nadeem Siddiqui, resident district manager of Bon Appétit, the machines will take what was previously 25 bags worth of garbage in a day, and will compact it into about two bags worth, saving the university 23 bags.

Siddiqui said that the University hopes that the compactors will be more sustainable.

In addition to the reduction in the number of garbage bags, Siddiqui also says that the compactor may enable the University to make fewer trips to remove waste from campus.

Although there are only two of the compactors on campus now, Siddiqui says that there may be more next year, if they pass the pilot phase.

Siddiqui and Director of Operations and Executive Chef David Murphy said that they will have to make sure that the compactors can stand up to the amount of garbage that students throw out.

“It makes sense in theory but we are seeing if the machines can work in high volume,” Murphy said.

According to Siddiqui, the compactors will only use eight dollars worth of energy each year.

Still, the university is not completely sure of the environmental impact of the compactors.

“The goal is to reduce packaging going into the landfill. We think it is supposed to be 25 to two, but we want to see if it works,” Siddiqui said.

Martin Witchger, a student consultant at the Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic at the University, thinks the compactors will augment the University’s already-strong recycling program.

“I just noticed them a couple of days ago. It makes a lot of sense. I appreciate that Wash. U. is trying to reduce trash. We have a great recycling system. Wash. U. does try to do a lot, and it’s great that they are continuing to try to be more sustainable,” Witchger said.

Not all students see the benefit of the compactors.

“The issue with these trash compactors is we are not addressing the root cause of our waste problem,” Peter Murray, former president of Green Action, said. “We’re not decreasing any of the waste that we produce, we’re simply putting it in less bags. So if we were really serious about getting to the root of our waste problem, we’d look at the packaging things come in and other things like that. We’re obscuring our actual consumption by squishing it into less and less bags.”

Although there are only garbage compactors at present, Murray hopes that if the project continues beyond its pilot phase, there will also be recycling compactors.

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