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Diversion Rate
Net Avoided Disposal Cost
Carbon Footprint
Recycling Streams
Annual Highlights
Collection Services
Program Costs & Operations

The fiscal year 2012 Recycling & Solid Waste Annual Report provides an overview of the University of Washington’s recycling and solid waste program for the Seattle campus from July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012. It explains the various waste and recycling streams that are collected on campus, and provides an overview of some of the innovative and educational programs we have implemented to help divert more material from the landfill.

Recycling & Solid Waste thanks the University’s students, faculty, staff, and community partners for their commitment to the environment, willingness to recycle, and support of the program. It is through everyone’s collective efforts that the University of Washington has achieved such great success. Recycling & Solid Waste looks forward to continuous collaboration with campus partners to work toward our new goal of 70% waste diversion
by 2020.




Intro | Diversion | Net Avoided Costs | Carbon Footprint | Recycling Streams | Highlights | Collection | Costs & Operations


Diversion Rate: 57%

The diversion rate is the best indicator of how successful the University of Washington is in keeping materials out of the landfill. It is used to measure how the institution is doing compared to previous years, other higher education institutions, and the City of Seattle. The diversion rate is calculated by dividing the total tons of material diverted from the landfill by the total tons of waste generated for the University’s main Seattle campus.

DiversionNote that tonnage for both recycled and landfilled special wastes are included when calculating the diversion rate, but not when calculating the net avoided disposal cost. Spent lighting (fluorescent lamps), white goods (refrigerators), and electronics (CPUs/monitors) are recycled special waste because these items contain potentially toxic substances, such as mercury, refrigerants, and lead, and therefore are banned by law from disposal in the landfill. Sharps and untreated biomedical waste are landfilled special waste and are disposed of off site, separate from the municipal solid waste stream.

The diversion rate for fiscal year 2012 was 57%.

Fiscal year 2012 was the first time tonnage for items resold through UW Surplus was included in the diversion rate, coinciding with the first time the University measured and reported on its sustainability performance by using the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS®). STARS recognizes waste diversion as any effort used to divert material from the landfill through recycling, reuse, donation, and resale efforts. UW Surplus resold 822 tons of items in fiscal year 2012.

Diverted Recycling & Solid Waste develops annual program plans centered around driving waste diversion. For fiscal year 2013, the focus is on developing more comprehensive educational campaigns and updating educational materials. Recycling & Solid Waste is also committed to increasing public area composting options in buildings and exterior areas through the expansion of the MiniMax program, installation of additional Solar Kiosks, and a pilot restroom paper towel composting program.



Intro | Diversion | Net Avoided Costs | Carbon Footprint | Recycling Streams | Highlights | Collection | Costs & Operations


Net Avoided Disposal Cost

Net avoided disposal cost is a calculation that shows whether it makes good economic sense to recycle. A positive net avoided disposal cost demonstrates that it costs less to recycle than to landfill waste.

Net AvoidedThe net avoided disposal cost is calculated by subtracting the average cost per ton to recycle from the average cost per ton to landfill, and then multiplying the difference by the total tons recycled.

Note that recycled and landfilled special wastes are not included when calculating the net avoided disposal cost. Recycled special waste cannot be landfilled and does not contribute to the savings achieved through recycling. The inclusion of recycled special waste in the net avoided disposal cost would significantly increase the average cost per ton to recycle, thereby misrepresenting the overall average cost per ton to recycle. Landfilled special waste is not included when calculating the net avoided disposal cost because the high costs associated with its disposal would skew the average cost per ton to landfill.

The fiscal year 2012 net avoided disposal cost was $1,229,505, which is more than $263,000 greater than the previous fiscal year. This past year, both the costs to dispose of material in the landfill and the amount of garbage increased, while costs to recycle materials decreased and the overall amount of material diverted from the landfill increased, resulting in additional savings over the previous fiscal year.

If the material recycled in fiscal year 2012 had been landfilled, the University would have paid an additional $1,229,505 on its garbage bill.



Intro | Diversion | Net Avoided Costs | Carbon Footprint | Recycling Streams | Highlights | Collection | Costs & Operations


Carbon Footprint

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Associated with Solid Waste

The collection of solid waste produces greenhouse gas emissions in three primary ways:

  • Disposal: the anaerobic decomposition of waste in landfills produces methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
  • Transportation: the transportation of waste to disposal sites produces greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of the fuel used in transport.
  • Manufacturing: making new products to replace items disposed of in the landfill produces greenhouse gas emissions because fossil fuels are used to obtain raw materials and/or manufacture the new items.

Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Waste Reduction Model (WARM) is designed to estimate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reductions associated with various waste management strategies. By calculating emissions in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO₂E), the model divides waste into multiple categories depending on waste type and allows the user to designate landfill, incineration, recycling, or composting as the method of disposal.

Recycling & Solid Waste’s Carbon Footprint

A carbon footprint is defined as the total set of GHG emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organization, event, or product. Recycling & Solid Waste used WARM to estimate the carbon footprint of the University’s recycling and solid waste programs for fiscal year 2012. The results of the WARM calculations are in the chart below. WARM reports net emissions only from the “mixed MSW” (landfilled waste) category. Recycled or composted materials, 57% of the waste stream in fiscal year 2012, result in net reductions of GHG emissions, as indicated by the numbers in parentheses. Recycling and composting are considered less GHG intensive. By recycling or composting 57% of the waste generated in fiscal year 2012, the University’s recycling and solid waste programs had a net reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 10,603 MTCO₂E, resulting in an overall decreased carbon footprint.

Footprint Carbon Footprint Chart Explanation

By recycling and composting 57% of the waste generated in fiscal year 2012, the University’s recycling and solid waste programs had a net reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 10,603 MTCO₂E, resulting in a decreased carbon footprint.


What Do These Numbers Mean?

The recycling efforts at the University of Washington have a positive effect on our environment and our community. In fiscal year 2012, the University’s recycling and solid waste programs:

  • Saved enough energy to supply power to more than 700 homes for one full year.
  • Reduced pollution by the equivalent of taking more than 1,700 cars off the road for a full year.
  • Saved more than 10,000 trees by recycling paper.
  • Reduced the need for extracting more than 700 tons of virgin materials, including limestone, iron ore, and coal, from the land.
  • Reduced energy consumption—the equivalent of 1,093,128 gallons of gasoline or 50 railway cars full of coal.

Trend in University Greenhouse Gas Reductions

The chart below shows greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions over the past five years. The numbers in parentheses represent the net reduction of GHG emissions as a result of the University’s recycling and composting programs.

Carbon Footprint



Intro | Diversion | Net Avoided Costs | Carbon Footprint | Recycling Streams | Highlights | Collection | Costs & Operations


Recycling Streams

Recyclable materials collected on campus are consolidated into combined material streams that mirror the industry standards and are categorized as follows:

Mixed Paper

Combined Fiber
Combined fiber is cardboard, mixed paper, and combined paper/cardboard.




Organics is landscape debris, clean wood/pallets, food waste, and compostable serviceware.

Construction & Demolition

Construction & Demolition
Construction and demolition (C&D) is mixed C&D, concrete/asphalt, metal, and carpet. Mixed C&D includes metal and concrete/asphalt when those items cannot be separated out from the rest of the material. Where possible, concrete/asphalt and metal are each collected separately for recycling.

Mixed Recyclables

Mixed Recyclables
Mixed recyclables is mixed containers, single-stream recycling, and plastics. Mixed containers includes all container-type materials that are accepted by our recycling vendor, such as bottles, cans, cups, jars, jugs, and aseptic packaging. There are designated bins for mixed containers (formerly known as cans & bottles) in all campus buildings. Single-stream recycling combines both mixed containers and paper and is collected at the residence halls. Plastics includes plastic film, hard plastics, and Styrofoam.



Recycled Special Waste
Recycled special waste is all waste that contains potentially toxic substances, such as mercury, refrigerants, and lead, and therefore is banned by law from disposal in the landfill. This stream includes electronics, white goods, fluorescent lighting, and batteries. Included in the tonnage for this stream are printer/copier cartridges and components; electronic media, such as DVDs and computer disks; and small personal electronics, such as cell phones and PDAs. Also included are the tonnages for donated items collected during SCRAM, the student moveout donation event.




UW Surplus
All items purchased with University monies or given to the University that are no longer needed by a department, whether they are in working or non-working condition, must be transferred to UW Surplus for resale, recycling, or disposal. Tonnages for Surplus items recycled or sent to the landfill have always been included in the diversion rate. For the first time in fiscal year 2012, tonnage for the items resold through Surplus is included in the diversion rate, coinciding with the first time the University of Washington measured their sustainability performance by using the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS®), which includes reselling as a criteria for waste diversion.

Recycled materials accounted for 57% (6,547 tons) of the total materials disposed of in fiscal year 2012.


Recycle Streams



Intro | Diversion | Net Avoided Costs | Carbon Footprint | Recycling Streams | Highlights | Collection | Costs & Operations


Annual Highlights

Below is a selection of program successes in fiscal year 2012.

Solar Kiosks

Red SquareIn April 2012, Recycling & Solid Waste replaced outdoor Smart Cans on Red Square with seven new high-tech, solar-powered waste kiosks that collect greater quantities of material. The Solar Kiosks consist of three containers for sorting composting, recycling, or garbage. These were the first containers for outdoor public area compost collection at UW, and this is the first program of its type nationwide.

The Solar Kiosks are equipped with sensors that measure that mass of material inside and wirelessly report this to an online dashboard. This technology enables efficiencies in waste collection service. The garbage container has an automated compactor that increases the amount of garbage space by roughly 500% over the previous containers. The kiosks are also outfitted with educational panels to help users identify which container to use for various materials.

Kiosk LaunchThe program was initiated in response to results from the annual UW Trash-In, run by Recycling & Solid Waste, which showed a need to increase public area composting, including implementing it in outdoor public spaces. In the first month of use, the total volume of waste collected by the kiosks on Red Square was 42% compostables, 38% recyclables, and 20% garbage.

The program was so successful that six Solar Kiosks were added to the grounds outside the newly remodeled Husky Union Building.


Trash-In: Exploring the way we waste

Trash-In SortThe annual UW Trash-In event explores how much compostable and recyclable material is still being thrown in the garbage bins on campus. New for 2012, Trash-In took place on Red Square, a location that allowed for greater exposure and educational outreach.

The event continued to grow in interest and impact, drawing the largest volunteer turnout to date. Just over 40 volunteers sorted through more than 1,200 pounds of garbage from various campus locations, dividing the material into five categories:

  • Compostables (including food scraps and compostable serviceware items)
  • Mixed Paper (including cardboard)
  • Mixed Containers (including cans, bottles, plastic dairy tubs, aseptic packaging, and non-compostable cups)
  • Other Recyclables (including Styrofoam, electronic media, plastic film, and Surplus items)
  • Garbage

The sorting efforts were educational for participants and intriguing to those passing through Red Square. Efforts also showed that of the waste collected, 51% was compostable, 20% was recyclable, and only 29% was actual garbage. These results are consistent with the previous year’s results, and are used to guide the development of future waste reduction programs and strategies.

Data and observations from Trash-In revealed several things.

First, the breakdown of material sorted remains fairly consistent with the past two Trash-In events in 2010 and 2011. This shows that existing waste diversion programs are working, but opportunities still remain to divert recyclable and compostable material from the garbage.

Trash-In VolunteersSecond, while the UW has a comprehensive composting program, opportunities remain to capture additional compostable items in public areas within and outside of buildings. Because more than half of the garbage sorted consisted of food scraps and compostable serviceware, Recycling & Solid Waste will continue to focus on composting infrastructure and education.

Finally, a large portion of the compostable and recyclable material being thrown away on campus consists of coffee cups and plastic water bottles—two items that could be eliminated entirely from the waste stream by encouraging people to carry a reusable cup or bottle.

Overall, Trash-In 2012 was a success, with increased participation, greater exposure, and valuable data and observations that will aid Recycling & Solid Waste in its future waste reduction and education strategies.


SCRAM: Student cleanup, recycle and moveout

SCRAM StuffFiscal year 2012 marked the ninth year of SCRAM: Student Cleanup, Recycle and Moveout—a program that captures unwanted items from approximately 5,000 students moving out of the residence halls at the end of the academic year. SCRAM diverts reusable goods from the landfill and donates items, such as food, books, clothing, household items, school supplies, and toiletries, to charitable organizations or recycles items that are not donated.

In total, Recycling & Solid Waste collected 18,807 pounds of reusable or recyclable items. This included 38 kitchen appliances, 23 TVs, 15 printers, 7 large bags of hangers, 15 pieces of furniture, 20 boxes of toiletries, 26 shelves of books, 177 emergency backpacks, and more than 8,000 pounds of clothing. In addition, the University District Food Bank collected 1,535 pounds of food that would have otherwise gone to waste.


Styrofoam Recycling

StyrofoamStyrofoam is widely received in shipments throughout the UW campus. Recycling & Solid Waste began a program in 2010 to collect and recycle Styrofoam blocks from major buildings, such as Magnuson Health Sciences Center. The program quickly expanded campus-wide.

In fiscal year 2012, Recycling & Solid Waste collected and recycled 6,702 pounds of Styrofoam. Because Styrofoam is so light, this is a small weight compared to other recyclables collected on campus. However, the space savings in the landfill is much more significant. Styrofoam is easily recycled into new products, but must first be processed into a reusable form. Recycling & Solid Waste’s vendor Styro Recycle processes the material and ships it to manufacturers to be remade into plastic products.

Packing peanuts—another form of Styrofoam material—are also collected and provided free of charge to local organizations and schools for re-use.



Intro | Diversion | Net Avoided Costs | Carbon Footprint | Recycling Streams | Highlights | Collection | Costs & Operations


Collection Services

Two types of collection services are provided at the University of Washington: self haul and vendor provided. The type of service provided depends on the amount and type of material generated.

Self-Haul Service
Recycling & Solid Waste crew collect recyclables and waste in University-owned collection vehicles from the loading docks of most central campus buildings that accommodate carts or 2-yard dumpsters. The materials are transferred to designated recycling collection and waste disposal sites within Seattle.

Vendor-Provided Service
All other service on campus is provided by vendors. Contracted vendors provide service for waste and recycling, organics, combined fiber, electronics, and fluorescent lighting. Non-contracted vendors provide service for untreated sharps and biomedical waste, electronic media and small personal electronics, printer/copier cartridges and components, and Styrofoam.

Waste Management
Waste Management (WM) provides collection and disposal of municipal solid waste and treated biomedical waste, hauling and disposal of treated sharps, and collection and processing of recyclables. WM collects from buildings and facilities that generate large volumes of waste and/or recyclables, including residence halls and dining facilities, Magnuson Health Sciences Center, Physical Plant, Facilities Maintenance & Construction trade shops, and the campus industrial yards. WM also provides service during special cleanout or renovation projects, for large-scale special events including Husky Football, and when a location requires regular weekend service, such as the University of Washington Medical Center. The contract with Waste Management began in January 2009 and has a term of six-and-a-half years, with renewable extensions up to six years.

Cedar Grove
Cedar Grove provides collection and composting of organics, including food waste, landscape debris, and clean wood. The contract with Cedar Grove began in January 2009 and has a term of six-and-a-half years, with renewable extensions up to six years.

International Paper
International Paper provides collection and processing of combined fiber. The contract with International Paper began in June 2005 and had an initial term of three years, with renewable extensions up to eight years. International Paper also collects and recycles plastic film and hard plastics.

Total Reclaim
Total Reclaim provides collection and recycling of electronics, computers, monitors, and peripherals, and other materials, including refrigerant gases and white goods. The University attached itself to Washington State’s electronics contract in fiscal year 2010.

EcoLights, a child company of Total Reclaim, provides collection and recycling of fluorescent lighting. The University attached itself to Washington State’s fluorescent lighting contract in fiscal year 2010.

Stericycle provides collection, treatment, and disposal of untreated sharps and biomedical waste.

GreenDisk provides collection and recycling of non-confidential electronic media, including CDs, DVDs, and videotapes, and small personal electronics, including cell phones, pagers, and PDAs.

PCR (Print Cartridge Recycle) provides collection and recycling of printer/copier cartridges and components, including fuser drums, imaging units, and transfer rollers.

Styro Recycle
Styro Recycle provides collection, processing, and recycling of Styrofoam blocks, boxes, and large pieces.



Intro | Diversion | Net Avoided Costs | Carbon Footprint | Recycling Streams | Highlights | Collection | Costs & Operations


Program Costs & Operations

The success of the Recycling & Solid Waste program is due primarily to the financial commitment of the University in providing funding for hiring and maintaining appropriate staffing levels, leasing and operating collection vehicles, purchasing equipment and supplies, and purchasing and placing waste, recycling, and compost collection containers in the most effective locations.

ExpensesFY12 STAFF
12 Staff Members (12 FTE)
Managerial & Administrative
Program Manager (1 FTE)
Program Coordinators (2 FTE)
Marketing Manager (1 FTE)
Supervisor (1 FTE)
Waste Collectors (4 FTE)
Litter Collectors (2 FTE)
Driver/Warehouse Worker (1 FTE)

Rear-load waste & recycling compaction vehicles (2)
Side-load recycling compaction vehicle (1)
Box truck (1)
Utility pickup trucks (3)

Waste and Recycling – Waste Management
Organics – Cedar Grove
Combined Fiber – International Paper
Electronics – Total Reclaim
Fluorescent Lighting – EcoLights
Untreated Sharps and Biomedical Waste – Stericycle
E.Media – GreenDisk
Cartridges and Components – PCR
Styrofoam – Styro Recycle



Intro | Diversion | Net Avoided Costs | Carbon Footprint | Recycling Streams | Highlights | Collection | Costs & Operations



Exenses Chart Expenses Explanation