Lack of trash cans frustrates campus


Isabella Alessandrini, Staff Writer

The UVM waste supervisor can count all the outdoor trash cans on campus on one hand.

He wants to get rid of all of them, he said.

Corey Berman is the waste and recycling program supervisor and made the conscious decision to abolish outdoor trash cans at UVM when he first started work in 2005.

“There were these huge, unsightly, dirty trash cans all over campus that were really a headache for operations to take care of,” he said.

“Then a few people in the department looking for ways for progressive waste management said ‘what if we just got rid of them altogether?’”

So they did get rid of them.

Other than a combination trash can near the Davis Center and a few other high-traffic areas, outdoor receptacles are a rare find at UVM, a phenomenon that adds to UVM’s visual appeal, Berman said.

Combination trash cans are rectangular receptacles with separate holes for recyclables, compost, and landfill items.

“People come to UVM for the beauty of the campus,” he said. “The last thing you want inhibiting a view is a big ugly trash can.”

But the principles behind the absence of waste receptacles go beyond aesthetics.

“As an institution of higher education, we’re trying to make students more responsible for the waste they create,” he said.

With the lack of trash cans, students often have to stuff plastic wrappers and empty coffee cups into coat pockets or hurriedly dispose of them in the nearest building.

Some students don’t mind the lack of outdoor waste receptacles, such as first-year Zoe Hagenburg.

“I don’t think there’s a negative impact really,” Hagenburg said. “It’s positive because not having a bunch of trash cans encourages reusable items.”

Reusable water bottles, EcoWare food containers and travel mugs are also hallmarks of UVM, Hagenburg said.

“It is an inconvenience, but UVM students are educated enough to not litter and instead seek out a proper receptacle,” SGA President Chris Petrillo said.

But not everyone is so happy with the lack of trash cans.

“I really don’t see why there can’t be more combination trash cans around,” junior Emma Naprta said.

“I have to walk around with banana peels and apple cores in my pockets all the time, and I think that making it inconvenient for people to compost food scraps just causes them to throw them on the ground instead.”

Burnt cigarette butts litter the exterior of dorms, dining halls and academic buildings, sophomore Cameron Smith said.

“I think it’s gross that UVM blindly got rid of trash receptacles and ashtrays,” Smith said. “I get that they’re trying to reduce smoking and waste, but it just results in butts on the ground everywhere.”

Over the years, multiple UVM students have pushed to get receptacles without success,  junior Brigitte Durieux said.

Durieux and a team of other students, attempted to get receptacles installed last year after learning about the harmful effects that cigarette butts have on the environment when not properly disposed of, she said.

The leachate chemicals that leak out of the cigarettes pose a direct threat to the survival of many amphibian species, Durieux said.

But Berman and the rest of the custodial team won’t change their stance on trash cans anytime soon, he said.

Multimedia reporter Sawyer Loftis gets the scoop about trash cans on campus in his podcast Canned UVM. Listen here