Refurbished Outdoor Trash and Recycling Bins Make Recycling Easier

The black trash and recycling receptacles manufactured by Victor Stanley – ubiquitous across the Morningside campus grounds – suffered from wear and tear after more than 20 years of exposure to the elements. Instead of incurring the cost of purchasing new cans, Campus Operations identified a unique and cost effective solution to restore the original manufacturers specifications while partnering with Environmental Stewardship and the Columbia EcoReps to redesign the lids to increase recycling participation.

December 12, 2018

The project includes a complete refurbishment of all 306 bins to improve their appearance and eliminate rust while widening the openings of both the paper recycling bins and the metal/plastic/glass/cartons bins to allow larger items like paper coffee cups and plastic take-out containers to fit, as recommended by the student group Columbia EcoReps.

The multi-pronged refurbishment process harnesses various specialized metal working trades. Instead of disposing of the old lids and purchasing new ones outright, Campus Operations opted to make design modifications to the existing lids to accommodate a larger variety of recyclables. For this process, Campus Operations sourced a metal fabrication shop to laser-cut and dye-cut the lids. They also worked with an independent labelling company who mocked up the Columbia-approved design proofs and translated them onto a high UV-resistant label material.

Campus Operations began rolling out the refurbished bins in July and has already introduced them on College Walk, Low Plaza, Lower Campus, and the east side of Upper Campus — about 80 percent of the 102 sets (3 per set) of outdoor cans on Morningside campus. The project will continue throughout the winter with expected completion by the end of the first quarter of 2019.

This effort is in line with Facilities and Operations’ dedication to continuous campus improvement, as well as its commitment to improving waste management as outlined in Columbia’s Sustainability Plan.