Big Waste Requires Big Brain

By Larry Chen

No doubt, almost all of you reading this have seen the “Zero waste to landfill by 2020” slogan wrapped around the rim of every trash bin on campus. A noble goal, you may think. With the sea turtles choking on straws and Mother Earth slowly being caked in single use plastics, less waste is always a great thing – right? But 2020 is already upon us. How close is UCLA to this goal? Have no fear: UCLA has a plan.

You don’t have to look far to find things that seem out of line with the “zero waste to landfill” goal – the UCLA Store is filled with food items in foil-lined wrappers. In many of the popular locations on campus, the landfill containers are frequently overflowing with trash. But not to worry: UCLA waste management solutions have results that show in other ways.

In waste management there are two major categories of handling waste: removing sources of waste production and processing waste more efficiently/cleanly. Clearly, we aren’t doing anything to mitigate waste production, so we must be putting all of our eggs in the waste processing basket.

Inside this basket we see that one of the methods employed by UCLA is the removal of desk-side trash bins in the book stacks, because “they accumulate too much waste and are extremely harmful for our zero waste goal.” In the dorms, there’s no landfill chute. The only place to dispose of landfill trash is a skinny, narrow bin in the floor lounge, with an opening so small it barely fits a Rende take out container.

As made apparent by these two big brain solutions, it seems that UCLA is trying to reduce landfill waste by removing the receptacles the waste goes in. If no one can find a can to put the waste in, then the trash never counts in the stat books. Even If someone does manage to find a can, none of their trash can be marked as landfill because there’s no bin for it! This is a play rehearsed since toddlerhood: if you can’t see it, then it doesn’t exist!

If you are not in awe of the neurological superiority of UCLA waste management yet, understand that removing bins has even more benefits – it also simplifies the waste sorting process! By reducing the number of bins that students can throw their trash away in, desperate students will now just give up and chuck it all in the nearest container to free up their hands. Don’t worry though, because UCLA waste management has it all handled. Once we remove all the trash cans and just replace it with a single “compost” pit in the middle of Bruin Plaza, we will have reached peak garbage.

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