UW News

April 29, 2004

UW Recycling: Stop pitching that paper!

UW News

The City of Seattle says it and UW Recycling agrees: Too many people are throwing out too much paper instead of recycling it.

But while the city is using warnings and ultimately fines to motivate citizens to recycle more, UW Recycling is hoping to start changing minds by offering a nice prize.

In an effort to curb unnecessary waste, the City has adopted a new No More Mister Nice Guy approach that bans all commercial customers — including the UW — from tossing clean paper in the garbage rather than recycling it. The new rule will be implemented over two years, to give new businesses time to get in the habit of recycling paper and others time to break the bad habit of not doing so.

Starting last month, the City began alerting new businesses to the change. In January of 2005, commercial garbage containers found to hold recyclable paper — from newspapers to envelopes and even Post-it notes — will be tagged with a reminder notice from the City. Repeat offenders will be mailed warnings starting in early 2006 and after that, fines may be imposed.

“One of the reasons the City did move forward with its ban is the tremendous amount of paper in all its categories of waste — commercial, residential and academic,” said Pat Kaufman, the UW recycling office’s program operations manager. Kaufman said the UW can meet the City’s recycling goal, with a little extra effort.

“We are not recycling as much paper as we could,” he said. “Their goal is 60 percent and we are trying to achieve that goal. We’re part of the city, and want to support their goals.”

Toward that end, UW Recycling is offering the gift of a fleece vest made from recycled materials and donated by Patagonia Inc. to the person who responds most creatively to the question: “How can we best encourage people to recycle paper on campus?” Entrants should e-mail their responses (with “Recycle Competition” in the e-mail’s subject header) by 3 p.m. Thursday, May 3, to: recycle@u.washington.edu. Entries also may be sent through campus mail, to Box 355210. Winners will be selected by 3 p.m. Thursday, May 6.

Another way UW Recycling is capturing paper that otherwise might get deep-sixed is with the new Personal Recycling Bin. This rectangular cardboard box is taking its place among the many recycling containers offered on campus — Bagit Stations, Public Area Bins and Silver Bins (for cans and glass). The Personal Recycling Bin, which is free, is for places where paper has traditionally been discarded rather than recycled, and it can be by calling UW Recycling at 206-685-2811 or visiting online at http://www.washington.edu/admin/recycling.

UW Recycling staffers say that across campus, about 4,350 tons of material was recycled in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2003. In that same period of time, fully 3,274 tons of paper was thrown out rather than recycled. That number should shrink in coming years.

Other recycling notes:

— UW Recycling will coordinate all orders and pickup of phone books this year. Campus phone book coordinators will be contacted about the change in coming weeks.

— The UW Surplus Office is selling certain of its items on eBay these days. For more information on UW surplus property, simply visit http://www.uwsurplus.com.