Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 77.43
Liaison Daimon Eklund
Submission Date Oct. 14, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

University of Washington, Seattle
OP-23: Waste Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.97 / 3.00 Emily Newcomer
Program Manager
Building Services - UW Recycling
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Materials diverted from the solid waste landfill or incinerator:
8,578.77 Tons

Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator :
4,504.18 Tons

A brief description of programs, policies, infrastructure investments, outreach efforts, and/or other factors that contributed to the diversion rate, including efforts made during the previous three years:

UW Recycling has extensive recycling and composting programs in place to help the University meet its waste diversion goal of 70% by 2020. A breakdown of programs, policies, and collection infrastructure is listed below:

Programs--MiniMax, SCRAM and BigBelly Solar Compactors

MiniMax—what started out simply as a self-service, desk-side waste and recycling collection program to raise awareness about personal waste generation has quickly evolved into a campus-wide waste diversion program that has helped standardize recycling and composting infrastructure across campus, including restroom paper towel composting. When a building is converted to the MiniMax system, the entire building’s waste infrastructure is reviewed and bins are moved, removed or added to allow for best coverage. The goal is to ensure we are providing adequate recycling, compost and garbage containers in common areas for students, faculty and staff to make proper waste diversion choices. This is extremely important because 95% of consumer waste at UW is recyclable or compostable.

SCRAM—UW Recycling’s annual Student Cleanup, Recycle and Moveout (SCRAM) event captures unwanted items from approximately 5,000 departing students who live in the residence halls. The goal of SCRAM is to divert reusable goods from the landfill and donate those items, such as food, books, clothing, household items, school supplies, and toiletries, to charitable organizations. At the end of the academic year, a donation station is set up at each residence hall to encourage donation and reuse. Each station includes instructional signs and collection containers to separate items. There is also space for donating large items like furniture and home theatre equipment. The program has been in place since 2004 and has helped keep nearly 150 tons of material out of the landfill towards donation and reuse instead. SCRAM tries to make moving out of the dorms a little easier. As we like to say, “Don’t just cram it…SCRAM it!” Watch SCRAM feature story on UWTV! http://uwtv.org/series/uw360/watch/74YMYrdAsgY/

BigBelly Solar Kiosks—The BigBelly Solar compactor units (Solar kiosks) use solar technology to increase container capacity and monitor container fullness. The initial 13 Solar kiosks installed in the Spring of 2012 proved to be effective in diverting material from the landfill to recycling and composting, reducing incidental litter issues and saving time spent servicing the containers. This success helped support investment in 22 new compactors in fiscal year 2014, bringing the total to 35 compactors on campus.
The BigBelly Solar compactor units have replaced over 100 of our traditional Smart Cans and are currently diverting 80% of outdoor waste to recycling and composting. As a result, the UW continues to increase its overall waste diversion, while setting greater standards for higher education waste diversion programs through the use of new technology. Although many public spaces, colleges and universities have installed BigBelly Solar trash compactors and/or recycling bins, the UW’s implementation is unique in that UW was the first university nationwide to use the kiosks to collect compost.

City ordinances—Effective January 1, 2015, the City of Seattle implemented an ordinance banning recycling and compost from the landfill from commercial customers. As a commercial customer within the City, the UW, has to comply and provide needed infrastructural improvement. To read more about the City ordinance visit: http://www.seattle.gov/util/MyServices/FoodYard/HouseResidents/CompostRequirement/index.htm

UW Climate Action Plan— The UW Climate Action Plan calls for education and outreach programs for faculty staff and students in regard to using and purchasing of goods and printing and copying responsibly (Strategy 7.4.2), and outlines a purchasing policy for products made with post-consumer recycled content products (Strategy 7.4.3). The Paper Conservation Program supports these strategies.

Executive Order— In August 2012, UW Executive Order 13, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability was approved by President Michael Young. This Order states the University will be a leader in implementing best practices and will demonstrate flexibility in adapting to new information, changing approaches, and emerging technologies. The scope of these efforts will encompass all University operations, including: the planning, design, construction, and performance monitoring of facilities; user behaviors and activities in areas such as commuting, travel, land use, and information technology; and the overall cycle of procurement, consumption, and disposal of commodities.
Read full text of Executive Order here: http://green.uw.edu/executive-order)

Garbage, Recycling and Food Waste collection infrastructure
A breakdown of our collection infrastructure s is listed below:

-Paper and Cardboard Recycling accounted for 18% (1323 tons) of total tons recycled in fiscal year 2014. All academic buildings on campus have the capability of sorting their material into three material types: mixed paper, mixed containers and landfill. Custodial staff empties the containers and takes the material to the building’s loading dock for proper disposal. UW Recycling crew then services and empties all mixed paper toters and 2 yard cardboard dumpsters located at the loading docks. UW Recycling crew consolidates this material into a University owned rear load packer truck and hauls to our contracted fiber vendor. For office clean-outs and moves, UW Recycling also provides 96-gallon mixed paper toters. These toters provide additional capacity for office clean-outs and encourage people to recycle their old books, files and papers rather than throw them away.

-Mixed Containers and Single-Stream Recycling accounted for 11% (837 tons) of total tons recycled in fiscal year 2014. All buildings on campus have the capability of sorting their material into recycling and garbage. Custodial staff empties the containers and takes the material to the building’s loading dock for proper disposal. UW Recycling crew services recycling toters and 2-yard dumpsters located at the academic buildings on campus and hauls it in a University owned rear load packer truck to Waste Management’s transfer station. Waste Management, one of our contracted haulers, services the recycling compactors located at the residence halls, the stadium, and the student union; locations where large volumes of recyclables are generated.

-Organics Recycling accounted for 39% (2,896 tons) of the total tons recycled in fiscal year 2014. Organics includes landscape debris, clean wood/pallets, and food waste/food-soiled paper.
--Landscape debris is all organic waste generated from landscaping activities and includes grass clippings, leaves, plant trimmings, and branches. Landscape debris is collected and consolidated by University Grounds staff. Some of the material is chipped on site and used as mulch throughout campus. The landscape debris that cannot be chipped is loaded into roll-off containers located at a campus industrial yard and then hauled by the University’s composting vendor to one of their facilities, where the material is ground up, mixed with food waste, and composted. University Grounds also manages an on-site compost facility that processes leaves and coffee grounds collected from Campus Cafes. The end product is used as soil amendment for campus landscape beds. UW Recycling staff collects the coffee grounds from campus cafes and drops it off at the facility for integration into the overall compost pile. Because this material would have normally been collected by our composting vendor we do capture tonnage separately for inclusion in overall diversion rate (since we are still diverting the material). In fiscal year 2015 we diverted 55 tons of leaves and coffee grounds from the landfill toward the campus compost facility instead.
--Clean wood/pallets is wood scraps, large branches, stumps, pallets, and wood packing crates. Clean wood/pallets must be free of paint, oil, Styrofoam, and shrink wrap. Clean wood, metal and other construction and demolition debris generated by the University’s Maintenance & Constructions shop during small renovation projects is placed in roll-off containers at the University’s industrial yards. Smaller containers, such as hoppers and carts, are used by other shops on campus to collect same material and are emptied by UW Recycling crew into roll-off containers at the campus industrial yards. Building staff place pallets, packing crates, and large pieces of wood at loading areas for collection by UW Recycling crew. Many pallets are reused by University staff or salvaged by outside companies. Crates, large pieces, and all other pallets are loaded into a roll-off container and hauled by the University’s composting vendor to one of their facilities, where the material is ground up, mixed with food waste, and composted.
--Food waste is all pre- and post-consumer food scraps, such as produce, meat, fish, dairy, bread, coffee grounds, and egg shells. Food waste includes all food-soiled paper, such as paper napkins, paper towels (kitchen and restrooms), paper plates, coffee filters, paper take-out boxes, and pizza boxes and also includes compostable serviceware items approved by the University’s composting vendor. Food waste generated in Housing and Food Services (HFS) dining facilities and coffee shops is collected in carts. HFS staff place full carts at building loading areas. Food waste generated throughout the building (in staff breakrooms, kitchen and hallway containers) is collected in Slim Jim containers, emptied by Custodial Services and transported by building or custodial staff to carts located at their building’s loading area. The University’s composting vendor services carts on site at the loading areas and hauls the material to one of their facilities, where the material is ground up, mixed with landscape debris and wood waste, and composted.

UW Recycling also has an extensive electronics recycling program. This includes electronics, e.Media items, white goods, fluorescent bulbs, toner cartridges and batteries. In fiscal year 2015, 222 tons (or 4%) of this material was recycled. Most of this material first goes through UW Surplus where items are identified either for resale or recycling. Electronics and refrigerators (and other white goods) that are not in working condition get recycled and picked up the University's contracted electronics recycler. Fluorescent bulbs are handed by UW Maintenance & Construction and placed in a storage container that is emptied weekly by the University's contracted fluorescent bulb recycler. Toner cartridges are placed at loading docks and either picked up by UW Recycling crew or our contracted vendor who picks up cartridges from 5 designated locations on campus. Batteries are primarily handled by EH&S although a lot our collected in the e.Media bins that UW Recycling has set up at over 75 locations on campus.

UW Recycling also has recycling programs set up for hard-to-recycle material such as Styrofoam, plastic film, and hard rigid plastics (plastics #1-7). The recycling of this material accounted for 14 tons of the total tons recycled in fiscal year 2015. The UW Recycling website has online request forms that the campus community can access and submit when they need this material picked up for recycling. UW Recycling strives to make it as easy as possible for campus customers by picking up the material, storing it on site at our yard until a large enough load is ready to be picked up by the contracted vendor.

In fiscal year 2015, UW Recycling's SCRAM program (student move out program) diverted 28 tons of material towards donation and reuse rather than being thrown away. Housing & Food Service food donations accounted for the diversion of 11 tons of material towards donation and reuse rather than being thrown away. Additionally, Housing & Food Services cooking oil recycling program diverted 28 tons of material towards recycling rather than being thrown away.

And, finally, in fiscal year 2015, 984 tons of materials were diverted from the landfill through the successful re-selling efforts of UW Surplus.

A brief description of any food donation programs employed by the institution:

Our food and beverage vendors donate product to needy families through Food Lifeline and Northwest Harvest and Ronald McDonald House. The UW Dining staff donate their time to support programs that feed and support needy families in our region. Three of our food service operations donate leftover but reusable food entrees and the accompaniments to Food Lifeline to support homeless shelters in close proximity to the University of Washington. In fiscal year 2015 the UW diverted 11 tons of food towards donation rather than landfill.

A brief description of any pre-consumer food waste composting program employed by the institution:

We compost all pre-consumer food and beverage waste in all of our food service operations. Since the beginning of 2004 we have incorporated into all of our operations back of the house composting. All food and beverage waste is collected and put out on all of our loading docks for pickup by our commercial composting facility, Cedar Grove which is located just 35 miles away from the University.

A brief description of any post-consumer food waste composting program employed by the institution:

We offer a 100% compostable products line of compostables which allows the customer to compost all of the food and beverage waste into our compost toters. We have a triple bin system for recycling, compost and solid waste in all of our food service locations, both retail and residence halls, as well as our outdoor mobile dining units. Our campus catering department offers compostable products for all of their events. We strive for a zero waste residential and dining environment.
We also capture cooking oil for recycling from eight food service locations on campus. In fiscal year 2014 we diverted 25 tons of cooking oil from landfill towards recycling.
In July of 2012, the dining program at the University of Washington received the gold award from the National Association of College and University Food Services sustainability awards competition for our waste management program.
In addition to the campus cafes, residence halls and dining facilities, other post-consumer food waste composting infrastructure can be found on campus. This includes 35 outdoor containers that capture recycling, compost and landfill materials. These outdoor containers are located in high-traffic, high-food waste consumption areas such as Red Square, the HUB and the Quad. UW Recycling has also invested a lot of resources into expanding the composting program throughout all academic buildings on campus with over 650 compost bins found in 135 buildings on campus.

Does the institution include the following materials in its waste diversion efforts?:
Yes or No
Paper, plastics, glass, metals, and other recyclable containers Yes
Food donations Yes
Food for animals No
Food composting Yes
Cooking oil Yes
Plant materials composting Yes
Animal bedding composting No
Batteries Yes
Light bulbs Yes
Toner/ink-jet cartridges Yes
White goods (i.e. appliances) Yes
Laboratory equipment Yes
Furniture Yes
Residence hall move-in/move-out waste Yes
Scrap metal Yes
Pallets Yes
Motor oil No
Tires Yes

Other materials that the institution includes in its waste diversion efforts:

We listed furniture and laboratory equipment as being included in our waste diversion rate because all materials resold through our Surplus Department is included in our waste diversion rate and this includes used furniture and laboratory equipment.

Electronics, Styrofoam, construction & demolition debris, hard plastics (#3-7), and plastic film are also included in our waste diversion rate.

We calculate our waste diversion rate based off the fiscal year calendar (July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015). In fiscal year 2015, our waste diversion rate was 66%
In fiscal year 2015 our overall numbers increased for all recycling streams. We recycled 954.22 tons of mixed recyclables and 3550.35 tons of organic waste (food, yard scraps and clean wood). The total amount of material landfilled decreased (4504 tons in FY 2014 vs. 4802 tons in FY 2014). This is quite notable considering the campus population, most notably on-campus students living in residence halls is increasing.

For the past three years our overall recycling tonnage has been increasing while the amount we throw away is decreasing—good signs our waste diversion programs and educational outreach efforts are having an impact considering our campus is growing.

UW Recycling monitors the numbers each quarter and tries to identify trends or causes for the fluctuations. This year we have also developed an annual program plan centered around the following focused objectives:
Educational Outreach
--Increase promotion of the Recycling Roadshow, a presentation that provides recycling and compost education directly to the campus community
--Continue to foster the development of the student driven RecycleMania planning committee to increase campus-wide promotion of and participation in the national recycling competition. We want to continue to lead Pac-12 schools in overall recycling and increase our ranking among Universities nationwide.
--Development of programs for our international student population
--Continue to improve and update educational materials and signage by collaborating with campus partners, with a specific focus on uniformity of appearance and message.
--Targeted outreach with an emphasis on compost for the residence halls.

Continue to minimize waste and maximize recycling by increasing participation in the use of this self-service, desk-side waste collection system, with the goal of having 60% of campus buildings converted to MiniMax by the end of fiscal year 2016.

Improved Recycling/Composting Infrastructure
Effective January 1, 2015, the City of Seattle implemented an ordinance banning recycling and compost from the landfill from commercial customers. As a commercial customer within the City, the UW, has to comply and provide needed infrastructural improvement. Thus, in 2015 we will continue to identify needs for improved recycling and composting infrastructure on campus that will increase opportunities for post-consumer recycling and composting. This includes the installations of more BigBelly Solar Compactors in outdoor spaces and more installations of compost containers throughout campus buildings and cafes.

To read more about the City ordinance visit:

Increase Recycling Diversion from In-House Construction Projects
We will collaborate with Facilities Maintenance & Construction on an education plan and refined operational system to encourage increased recycling diversion from in-house construction projects.

Service and Routing Efficiencies
Refine collection services and routing schedules for increased efficiencies and improved customer service including converting more buildings to single-stream recycling.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.