Reimagining Future of Waste at The BAC

MLA student Jonathan Cave Gives update on new waste management system

Jonathan working on building new waste management system

Early in the fall semester of 2015, two students, Thomas Klein and Jonathan Cave, worked with the Sustainability Council to imagine the future of waste at the BAC. Facilities wanted to change the way students used, reused, and disposed of materials on campus.

Initiated by the growing amount of materials discarded or forgotten at the conclusion of each semester, Facilities was looking for a solution to how we could limit the amount of waste generated by disposing of what many design students would label valuable construction materials (i.e. sheets of cardboard, acrylic, and chipboard; markers; paints; and glues).

Organizing a core group of students, they began to rethink the idea of waste at the BAC. Not only were the wasted materials of concern but also was the overall environmental footprint being created by the BAC. Could we redesign the whole system? Could we streamline waste management on campus so students could more easily make environmentally responsible decisions?

These questions were integral to the proposed solution. Analyzing the current usage of the trash and recycling receptacles in both the 320 Newbury and 951 Boylston buildings, the students realized that many items were being placed in the recycling bins when they need to be placed in the trash bins and vice versa.

Waste Management

Seeing the inconsistencies of the current system, the group's belief in the efficacy of a waste-management solution was built around the ideas of creating waste-center nodes and of giving students an opportunity to reuse materials often scrapped. Creating nodes would make the act of disposing of an item conscious.

As the bins are now positioned, there is no consistent, defined location for their placement, causing students to search for the appropriate bin. This can cause the stressed, tired, or focused student to favor ease and proximity, settling for the closest bin, whether that is recycling or trash. By creating stations where students will always be able to find both bins arranged next to each other, students will be able to consciously make the correct decision with ease.

Waste Management

Attached to these stations at specific floors - the basement and 5th floor on 320 Newbury, and the 3rd floor on 951 Boylston- will be material recycling stations where students will be able to put materials they no longer need in appropriate slots, giving another student the opportunity to up-cycle the item- also saving the next student valuable time and money.

After a charrette, a presentation, and construction, two prototypes have been built to test this idea. Located on the 3rd floor of 951 Boylston is a materials-reuse station and a standard recycling and trash node (newly relabeled landfill to inform students where the items disposed of in the gray trash bins finally rest).

Waste Management

These stations are meant to evolve over time, and students, staff, and faculty are encouraged to leave suggestions. If the prototypes work effectively, then there may be the potential to increase the scale of the instillations.

We are all helpers in creating a BAC culture that tries to mitigate our environmental impact. Recycle. Reuse. Let us help diminish the size of our landfills. Let us become Greener.

Story by Jonathan Cave, MLA Student