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Waste & Recycling April 16, 2018 06:30:22 AM

Poor Waste Sorting Thwarts New Waste Management Implementation

Waste Advantage
ScrapMonster Contributor
Within the first month of implementation, total waste diverted from landfill trash to recycling or compost increased by 5 percent to 66 percent, Kerzie wrote in a March 2 email to the Wheel.
Poor Waste Sorting Thwarts New Waste Management Implementation

SEATTLE (Waste Advantage): Campus Services (CS) is facing some challenges with the University’s installation of new standardized waste bins, including trash overflow during peak periods and missorted trash, according to Associate Vice President for Facilities Management Todd Kerzie. The new waste disposal system, which has already seen some improvement in landfill diversion, was part of the updated waste management policy implemented in January.

After CS purchased and installed new waste bins, people have been discarding items in the wrong bins. As a result, waste “rejections” have been occurring at an off-site collection facility. Rejections happen when a particular waste bag contains too much of another type of waste and the facility redirects the waste to a different recycling center or a landfill site. Indoor waste bins have also faced issues with trash being improperly sorted, with most rejections occurring in Greek housing, the DUC-ling and Cox Dining Hall, according to Kerzie.

The five different containers are compost, plastic/cans, mixed paper, white paper and landfill. CS spent between $200,000 and $300,000 on the new waste bins, the Wheel reported on Nov. 8, 2017.

“Implementing the policy has been the easy part,” Vice President for CS Matthew Early said. “The only thing is people now moving forward with the policy, especially on the external containers across campus. I still see plastic and aluminum cans placed in the composting containers.”

Within the first month of implementation, total waste diverted from landfill trash to recycling or compost increased by 5 percent to 66 percent, Kerzie wrote in a March 2 email to the Wheel. The University diverted 75 percent of its waste from landfill in February, Kerzie wrote in an April 10 email to the Wheel. For comparison, the diversion rate for the 2017 fiscal year ending on Aug. 31, 2017 was 59 percent, according to the CS website. The University’s goal is a 95 percent diversion rate by 2025.

Cahoon Family Professor of American History Patrick Allitt, who lectures in Bowden Hall, said that people put food waste in the recycling or landfill bins that are not serviced as frequently, causing an unpleasant odor in the area.

“The problem … is that the food waste smells terrible and the container doesn’t get cleaned out often enough,” Allitt said. “So most of the time the entire History Department is contaminated with the nasty smell of old, almost rotten food waste.”

Allitt added that he thinks that the new policy of sorted trash bins is “very sensible.”

Matthew Callahan, a CS custodian who services recycling bins for fraternity houses on Eagle Row, said that missorted trash is a campus-wide issue but it is especially prevalent in fraternity houses.

Early said that CS custodial staff have shown him images of how one fraternity house has Hefty trash bags placed around the house to collect all forms of trash. These bags, containing unsorted garbage, are then disposed of in recycling containers meant only for plastic, metals and paper.

“I don’t know if it’s an education thing or if people don’t want to take that extra second [to separate waste components],” Early said.

Kerzie and Director of the Office of Sustainability Initiatives (OSI) Ciannat Howett both acknowledged that recycling and compost bins outside Cox Hall frequently overflow during lunchtime.

“It’s sort of a nice problem when your compost bins are overflowing because it means you’re being successful,” Howett said. “We need eyes and ears on the ground to help us … [students will email us] and say ‘Oh, the bins are overflowing on Cox Hall Bridge’ and we can say ‘Oh, great, we’ve got to find a solution for that.’ ”

Courtesy: https://wasteadvantage.com

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