PA Launches “Trash Talk” Series This Year to Reduce Last Year’s High Cost of Waste Removal

Faculty learned last June that Phillips Academy spent a staggering total of $50,000 on campus waste removal last year. The school’s overall waste weighed in at 671 tons last year, according to Trish Russell, Sustainability Coordinator. The $50,000 cost, paid by the ton, comes mostly from transportation. Andover hired a truck service to transport the 671 tons of waste to an incinerator in North Andover to be burned. Students and faculty have, in turn, planned new initiatives to help advocate trash reduction on campus. A series of events called “Trash Talk” will take place within the next few months to raise awareness on how “slashing the trash” can save money and energy and reduce pollution, said Russell. The food waste system in Paresky Commons is an energy-saving and money-saving method implemented in response to last year’s totals. Students may have noticed the absence of trash cans in Paresky Commons. “We were afraid people would start throwing away napkins and paper plates in the trash cans,” said Russell. “Farms reject the compost if it is contaminated with plastic.” Students are advised to place their silverware in a bin, and unload dishes on the rotating conveyor belt. The belt leads into the kitchen, where Aramark staff sort dishware, cups and waste. All food and paper waste are put into a brand new dehydrating machine, which takes out 85 percent of the water so that trucks can deliver waste as compost to a local farm in Hamilton, Mass. The Ort Report that took place in February, combined with trayless dining in Paresky Commons, has also helped to reduce the amount of campus waste. Russell said that trayless dining has proven to significantly reduce food, electricity and, in some cases, to prevent over-eating. Students taking Science 500, “Environmental Science,” are also organizing several events centered on reducing waste. Russell and John Rogers, Dean of Studies and Instructor in Chemistry, teach Environmental Science. The town of Andover is hosting its annual “Zero-Waste Day” on May 9. Some Seniors in Science 500 will be volunteering in the event, which takes places in downtown Andover. Volunteers collect clothes, books and other items that people would normally throw away, and they will donate them to charities. Nine charities will be in attendance, including Lazarus House and Big Brother Big Sister, said Stephanie Moroney ’09, a Science 500 student. Science 500 students are helping by putting up fliers around town and issuing a press release in the Andover Townsman for “Zero-Waste Day”. Nick Craven ’09, another Science 500 student, said that students in their class had to contact the charities that attended last year to see if they were coming again. “This project was our main activity this term,” Craven said. “We’re applying the knowledge we learned in class to the real world.” PA students that will be volunteering at the “Zero-Waste Day” event will attempt to use the event as a model for a similar setup during Andover’s annual Spring Carnival. Emily Little ’09, a Science 500 student, said that she and a few other Seniors will be setting up collections at the event for everything that students may want to get rid of at the end of the year, such as clothes, furniture and electronics. Russell said that last year the school took truckloads of waste from dorms after Commencement, and that there was so much waste there were not enough employees to get rid of it all. Russel hopes the collections at the Spring Carnival will help to reduce that waste. There will be a few charities at the Spring Carnival to take away what is collected, and the student organizers are considering giving rewards to those who participate, added Little. Jeffrey Marzluft, Associate Director for Instructional Services at the OWHL, has agreed to be in charge of collecting unwanted books. There were no collections at last year’s Spring Carnival. The Spring Carnival is scheduled for May 30. Russell said she would like to post updates on waste reductions throughout the term, but that totaling the waste would be much more difficult than calculating Ort because there are countless garbage disposals across campus.