About Us

The University of Washington has a comprehensive Recycling & Solid Waste Management Plan. This plan includes waste reduction, waste collection and disposal, administrative oversight, and outreach efforts designed to educate the campus community regarding recycling opportunities and services. Recycling at the University is designed to be visible and convenient and to maximize the recovery of waste.

For a brief overview of the recycling and solid waste program, watch UWTV’s program UW: A Leader in Sustainability, produced in October 2007.

Choose an item from the sidebar for additional information about UW Recycling.

Our Mission

To serve as a leader in sustainability by providing innovative recycling, composting and waste reduction solutions with unmatched passion for the health of our campus and our planet.

Our Vision

To achieve a sustainable campus by promoting personal environmental responsibility and actions that minimize waste and maximize recycling.

History

On February 26, 1970, what was billed as the World’s First Trash-In was held on the University of Washington campus. Students were invited to bring trash from home and the University campus to special bins in front of the HUB that day. The items were then separated into different categories (paper, plastic, glass, and metal) and returned to the original producers with the request that they be reprocessed. The trash-in emphasized the waste associated with American life—and it helped Seattle become a leader in recycling.

Three years later in 1973, the UW started recycling paper products and now UW Recycling is diverting from the landfill more than 50% of the University’s waste. For more information please visit our History page.

Waste Characterization Study

In 2003, UW Recycling commissioned their second waste characterization study to:

  • Examine changes in the composition and quantity of materials disposed by the University since the previous study in 1989.
  • Evaluate the effective of the waste reduction and recycling programs.
  • Identify opportunities for increased material recovery to meet or exceed Seattle’s 60% recycling goal by 2008.

The study focused on all municipal solid waste disposed by the University main campus from July 2002—June 2003 and the report was published in 2004.

Annual Report

UW Recycling has achieved great success in increasing our diversion rate, continuing to save in garbage disposal costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A summary of accomplishments, detailed data analysis and program highlights are provided in our Annual Report:

Climate Action Plan

The University of Washington is a founding signatory to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and in 2009 developed a University-wide Climate Action Plan. UW Recycling is one of many units on campus that work with UW Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability to meet the goal of a climate-neutral University and ensure sustainable campus practices as outlined in the Plan.