Bartley Hall Launches New Liquid Waste Disposal Bins

Katie Reed, News Columnist

This past August, new liquid waste containers were installed in Bartley Hall to help Villanovans reduce their waste and recycle properly. Now that the entire maintenance staff has received training on how to use these containers, they were finally opened for use after fall break. 

Ava Eberly and Maeve Malone, two sophomore Student Recycling Coordinators for the Waste and Recycling Department, were able to shed some light on their roles and the new liquid waste containers.

“We are mostly helping out with the initiatives that the team already created last year, which includes waste auditing, mapping the waste bins both inside buildings and outside buildings, helping out with donation drives and zero waste games and getting the message out to different groups across campus,” Malone said.

The waste audits in particular helped the team select Bartley as the best place to try out the liquid waste containers, as Bartley had the highest percentage of things thrown out that should have been recycled.

“A lot of what we’re doing is trying to teach people how to dispose of their waste properly,” Eberly added. “A lot of people are coming from all over the country, and they have different levels of exposure to programs like recycling and composting, so we’re trying to bridge the gap between people who do know and people who don’t.”

For instance, from Oct. 20-26, Eberly and Malone, along with other members of their team, hosted a Bartley takeover in the Atrium. They set up a table to talk about the new initiative and ask students about their recycling habits to educate them on how to recycle properly. 

The bins themselves are made from recycled plastic and there are currently six of them in Bartley. When students open the bin to dispose of their leftover liquid, there is a splash pad that allows the liquid to go through but stops other kinds of waste from entering. Then, the liquid can pass through the normal drainage system and is recycled back into the system at the water treatment plant, Eberly mentioned.

Fiona Lonergan, a junior who is the head of the Food Committee within the Student Sustainability Committee (SSC), also volunteered at the table and shared her thoughts on the new program.

“One of the biggest things is that [prior to this], you couldn’t recycle a plastic cup if it had ice or leftover liquid in it,” Lonergan said. “The whole purpose of having the liquid waste containers is it gives you a place to dispose of that liquid so then you can properly recycle your cup.”

Lonergan also emphasized that after disposing of the liquid, one has to throw out both the lid of the cup and the straw used, which people may not know. 

From this experience, Eberly, Malone and Lonergan learned that it took engaging with people directly to get them to use the new containers properly. 

“The hard thing we are learning is that signage is not enough,” Lonergan said. “You need someone there telling people what to do for anything to be done properly.”

As Malone pointed out, signage is also something that Waste and Recycling is evaluating along with the waste audits to see what can be improved, as they revamped it in Bartley with black signs for trash, blue for recycling and brown for liquid waste.

Implementing these containers will have a lot of benefits, including having cleaner recycling, ensuring recyclable material won’t end up in a landfill and reducing the weight of recycling. This not only helps the custodial staff, as they won’t have to worry about overexertion or slipping on spilled liquid, but it will also help reduce Villanova’s carbon emissions, since the trash and recycling will weigh less on the trucks and require less gas to transport it. 

“I hope it’s easy enough that people will utilize it,” Lonergan added. “I think it’s really great, and I hope they are implemented all over campus.”

Eberly and Malone expressed similar thoughts.

“I think it’s a really good idea,” Malone said, noting how when she was growing up, she was unaware of the nuances of recycling. “Coming here, having this job and learning more about recycling has been really helpful, and I feel like a lot of people are in the same position as me where they don’t even know how to properly recycle.”

Consequently, everyone had advice for Villanovans looking to be more sustainable. 

“Being prepared to reduce your waste ahead of time, I’d say that’s my biggest tip [for Villanovans],” Lonergan said, emphasizing that students are now allowed to bring their own cups to Holy Grounds. “Prepare yourself to go about your day sustainability—it makes a difference.” 

Lonergan also noted that Main Line Shift in Narberth offers a great opportunity for students to buy things like dish soap and other cleaning supplies in bulk with the added plus that they let you bring your own reusable containers. 

“The actions of Villanova students, as it relates to their waste habits, do matter and they do make a difference,” Eberly affirmed. “[Villanovans] do have the power to make a difference in Villanova’s trajectory.”

Malone and Eberly mentioned that the Waste and Recycling team is always looking for volunteers at its events, such as when it does donation drives and zero waste basketball games, so if one wants to get involved, reach out to [email protected]. For more information on the SSC, check out its Instagram @villanovansustainability.