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Seattle University

Answer Me This

How much waste does SU generate in a given day?

October 6, 2017

A campus event this week helped answer that question as volunteers attacked a mountain of refuse that tipped the scales at 450-plus pounds. 

Hosted by the Facilities Recycling Shop and the Green Team at the Library Plaza on Oct. 4, Garbology II brought attention to the kinds of waste and how much of it SU generates each day. 

The 17 volunteers, representing students, faculty and staff, sifted through the contents collected from all the campus bins that day. As Recycling Coordinator and Compost Technician Eric Elliott reports, here’s the final breakdown of what the volunteers sorted: 

  • 62 percent was compostable
  • 21 percent was recyclable
  • 17 percent was neither compostable nor recyclable and was sent to a landfill 

Elliott points out that items placed in campus trash bins (vs. recycling/composting bins) is never sorted except at Garbology events. “Seattle University sends an average of 1.6 tons of waste directly from our trash cans to a landfill every day,” he says. “If the ratios found during Garbology II are relatively accurate, over 80 percent of that waste could have been placed in a green compost container or a blue recycling bin instead.” 

While the first Garbology took place last winter with patches of snow on the ground, the Garbology II crew of volunteers labored under near-perfect weather conditions, fortified by freshly pressed apple cider at lunch.

The Green Team, which is open to students, faculty and staff, promotes sustainability on campus through a variety of outreach activities such as helping people properly dispose of their waste at university events.

If you have questions about Garbology or waste collection on campus, please contact Eric Elliott at elliotte@seattleu.edu. You can also learn more about the SU's leadership in sustainability and the university's ongoing efforts to lighten its carbon footprint at www.seattleu.edu/sustainability.