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Seattle University

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Waste Not

Written by Karen Price and Mike Thee
February 17, 2011

Thanks to the university’s ever improving composting and recycling programs, 60 percent of SU’s waste eluded the landfill last fiscal year. That’s a sizable increase over the 49 percent of the university’s waste that was composted, recycled or reused the previous year. The news comes on the heels of SU being awarded the Recycler of the Year Award by the Washington State Recycling Association (WSRA) last spring.   

Tyler Dierks, waste prevention and recycling coordinator, attributes the increase to the 60 additional compost collection containers added to the campus cafes, residence halls, outside buildings and some campus offices, as well as to SU’s food service provider Bon Appétit switching to compostable to-go ware.  

“By making the effort to put leftover food waste into a compost bin, we prevented 60,000 pounds of compostable organic waste from going to a landfill last year,” says Dierks. 

He adds that almost all the to-go ware from the campus cafes is made of plant-based compostable materials, including: utensils, straws, clam shell containers, cellophane, plastic wrap, clear cups, and paper plates, bowls and cups. The petroleum plastic coffee cup and soup lids go in the recycling bin. (For a list of what to put in the compost bin, visit http://www.seattleu.edu/sustainability/compost/.)  

As Dierks reminds us, there’s something even better than recycling and composting, and that is not creating any waste in the first place. He offers some tips: “You can do that by bringing a reusable mug to the campus cafes where you will get a 20-cent discount on all hot beverages and fountain soda. When you are eating in Cherry Street Market, choose reusable china and utensils. An alternative solution for taking food to-go is to bring a large reusable food container with a sealable lid and transfer the food from your plate after buying; this works particularly well for sandwiches and the salad bar.” 

Dierks, who has been at SU since 2003, will be moving to Costa Rica with his wife and daughter to live and work on an organic farm. His last day is Feb. 22. If you have any questions or ideas about composting and recycling, you can contact Matthew Benedict, compost technician, at  benedicm@seattleu.edu or 296-6459. 

Become a fan of the Seattle U Sustainability Facebook page to share ideas on how we can work together to improve Seattle U’s sustainability performance and information on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle.