Students Dumpster-dive for treasure

The University sees a large influx of garbage – especially cardboard – just before fall semester.

by Charley Bruce

The sidewalks of campus residence halls and surrounding neighborhoods were lined with couches, futons and tons of cardboard this weekend.

The last day of August and the first day of September are big moving days for thousands of University students. When they move into their new residences they bring in new fans, alarm clocks and other items, all packaged in cardboard.

Most of the garbage will end up in an incinerator, but the University recycles the cardboard. The cardboard disposed of on campus equals nearly 25,000 pounds.

Dana Donatucci, program administrator for Waste Abatement Services, said the University’s residence halls have extra garbage during move-in, but it’s the huge amount of cardboard he really notices.

There was 226 percent more cardboard than usual over the weekend – 24,360 pounds, Donatucci said.

There also was 53 percent more garbage produced than on an average weekend, he said.

On the main collection route in Dinkytown, there were 194,820 pounds of garbage collected in 2005 from Sept. 5 to 11, said Jeff Jenks, business avocation manager for Minneapolis. During the week of Aug. 1 to 5, 136,180 pounds were collected, about 58,000 pounds less.

While the garbage goes to the Minneapolis incinerator, the cardboard goes to Rock-Tenn Company, a boxboard mill, for recycling, he said.

“This year went really well because people broke the cardboard down,” Donatucci said.

The worst time for garbage is when students move out, Donatucci said.

“When students leave they just leave,” he said.

When many students move out, they leave larger items they no longer want on the curb. The refuse then becomes the city’s problem. When garbage is put at the collection point it becomes city property, Jenks said.

He said his department doesn’t get complaints about people taking furniture off the streets.

“We only get reports about aluminum cans,” Jenks said.

The city doesn’t want people taking scrap and precious metals from collection points because the city sells them to fund its recycling program, he said.

Chad Rasmussen, a sports management senior who left a chair on the corner in front of his house in Marcy-Holmes, said he had never taken anything off the street.

But he said that was because he had never seen anything he liked.

“Throw a blanket on (a chair or couch) and it’s brand new,” he said. “Unless it stinks.”

Kacie Kleimola, a biology senior, said she never has picked up anything off the street.

“I would if I needed it,” she said.

Kleimola said she has lived in the neighborhoods surrounding campus over the past four years and has always seen the same type of trash lining the streets during move-in weekend.

“Tons of boxes,” she said.