Of Local Concern: See You On Campus

By Aaron Barrera

There is a movement in the Boston area. Responsible disposal has begun to take hold, but there is room for improvement.

As far as organic trash is concerned, the City of Boston has embraced solar compactors from the Big Belly company with a sponsorship program and that initiative has begun to filter through other streams.

Boston University (BU), Harvard University and Berklee College of Music have solar compactors on their campuses, but thanks to efforts in Philadelphia, Big Belly also now offers attachable recycling options for updated or newer units, though only BU and Harvard have taken advantage. The units are expensive, but require less servicing, so they pay for themselves quickly—two years in Harvard’s case.

Harvard, after being approached by Big Belly in 2006, now has six units in Harvard Yard. BU has about 20 units located along its campus down Commonwealth Avenue and Berklee has three on Boylston Street and Massachusetts Avenue, accessible by both students and the community. BU has its name and sustainability website (www.bu.edu/sustainability) promoted on the side of its unit, showing that it cares about the community in which it resides, by focusing on both students’ recycling and the community.

Now, BU and Harvard are the only ones listed prominently on Big Belly’s website. Other colleges have significant recycling efforts, but they’re inclusive to their campus. Even Harvard has its units in the Yard, not along its sidewalk facing the high-traffic square, but does wish to expand outside the Yard when times are not so tough. Northeastern University has units on side streets more accessible to students.

Emerson College’s reply to this initiative was that “Boston University’s campus is more extensive than Emerson’s,” so hence there are no plans to add sidewalk trash compactors. That’s missing the point. Emerson, along with Suffolk University, Fisher College, MIT, Northeastern and Berklee are in high-traffic areas. Following BU’s example of compactor placement, and with ads on the side of units directing passersby to explanations of the initiative, would show they care about the beautification of and good standing in their communities. Suffolk doesn’t have plans to get compactors, but does have recycling on campus available for public use.

These compactors and recycling units are starting to appear more frequently, so its a growing trend. If played right, the trend should explode. It can only be good news for these institutions. Other businesses have also joined Boston’s sponsorship program.

One concern is the pilfering population looking for redeemable cans and bottles. While many times those items end up in the right place, as far as recycling is concerned, at the same time, Harvard leaves recycling units unlocked to help this community out and thereby require even less servicing.

All in all, it’s a good idea and investment that pays for itself and gives good standing in the community.

Massport Efforts

The Massachusetts Port Authority also has solar compactors in its parks. They have the old versions. And while the authority doesn’t have plans to replace those with new versions of the compactor, recycling barrels have been placed next to the compactors. There are also other recycling-only receptacles.

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