Service Grounds Department, students discuss sanitation on campus


The Daily Illini File Photo

Trash cans overflow on the Main Quad. Ryan Welch, superintendent of grounds, said too many trash cans disturb campus beauty.

By Natasha Mosquera, Staff writer

In order to keep the campus looking clean, workers from the Facilities and Services Grounds Department complete their sanitation routes every morning between 7:15 and 8:15 a.m.

There are currently 36 full time grounds workers on staff. Workers maintain general campus properties by picking up litter, broken glass, random debris, trimming shrubs, planting flowers and anything else landscape related.

Ryan Welch, the superintendent of grounds, said shattered bottles near the bars are a big deal, because broken glass can spread up to about 20 feet from where the incident initially occurred.

“It takes a lot of time, unnecessary time out of our day, to do things that we could be doing something else – beautifying the campus – instead of cleaning it up from something that was unnecessary to begin with,” Welch said.

Welch also said he is not sure why someone would litter when there are over 600 trash receptacles on campus, in and outside of buildings.

“It’s kind of disrespectful for someone to throw trash out of, you know, out of their car, or just on the ground in general,” Welch said. “It’s just frustrating because people should just take more pride in their institution.”

Trash receptacles in and around campus are emptied once in the morning, and again in the afternoon.

Since sanitation is the second highest expense in the budget, Welch said the grounds department is looking into reducing the number of outdoor garbage cans on campus.

“Aesthetically, the garbage cans on campus aren’t really the prettiest things. They’re necessary in some spots, but they’re everywhere,” Welch said. “This draws squirrels, others birds and stuff. They leak; they’re nasty.”

Whether all garbage cans remain in place, or are reduced to help diminish the amount of garbage on campus and sanitation costs, it is a risk that Welch and his team are willing to take.

Welch said the increase in sanitation over time correlates not only with the increase of students on campus, but also with the many food trucks parked on every corner.

While he still thinks littering is a contributing factor to the increase in trash, Welch said the increase of products being sold has led to the extra garbage.

“That’s creating an issue because there’s more garbage from that. These services are provided because there are more people. I think they’re great,” Welch said, “but on our side of things, as far as maintenance goes, we have to deal with that.”

Richard Pokorski, student in Engineering, said the University does not look pristine when the streets are not kept clean.

“Frat houses tend to have a lot more alcohol cans out, like beer cans, bottles,” said Pokorski. “Around other areas I notice more it’s like wrappers, especially behind 309 (apartments) in the bushes, there’s always garbage bags or what not hanging out there.”

Pokorski believes he might be able help the issue by encouraging more people to throw out their trash when there is a garbage can nearby.

“There’s bound to be a garbage can. Even if you have a dumpster, like the big dumpsters that they use to collect trash for the apartment complexes, you can still throw it in there,” Pokorski said.

Pokorski also said if he saw a stranger littering he wouldn’t say anything to them because he’d feel uncomfortable, but if it was his friend he would.

“If it was my friend, I’d be like ‘why are you throwing that on the ground?’ You know, tell him to pick it up or something, but a stranger, probably not,” Pokorski said.

Tracy Osby, the coordinator for Campus Waste Management, however, said if he saw someone throw trash on the ground, he would say something.

“I would ask them why would they place it on the ground when the trash can is right there. You know what I mean? Would you do that at home?” Osby said. “If you’re at home, your garbage can is in the kitchen, then you just throw everything down on the living room floor? I mean, it’s right there.”

While drivers for Campus Waste Management empty and reset the dumpsters throughout campus, they also play a minor role in litter removal.

Osby said when his drivers are transporting the litter, there is always the possibility that some will fly out of the dumpster because the lid may not have been closed properly.

“They give me a call, and we call Grounds and tell them where it flew out and they send their people over to actually pick it up,” Osby said.

Osby also said Campus Waste Management’s job is to educate the campus on how to recycle by placing all the items in the right places.

“With the amount of tons that we recycle, so to speak, and the revenue that is generated from it, comes back to offset the cost of what it takes to run this facility,” Osby said.

Osby also said recycling prevents a lot of the materials such as – paper, cardboard, and aluminum cans – from going to the landfill.

If students learn to throw away their garbage and recycle properly, Osby foresees a positive outcome.

“I don’t see it getting any worse, but I see it getting better,” Osby said.

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