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  • AASHE-STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 77.43
Liaison Claudia Frere-Anderson
Submission Date Oct. 14, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

University of Washington, Seattle
OP-22: Waste Minimization

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.34 / 5.00 Emily Newcomer
Program Manager
Building Services - UW Recycling
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Waste generated::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 4,075.55 Tons 3,166 Tons
Materials composted 3,478.35 Tons 0 Tons
Materials reused, donated or re-sold 1,024.87 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 4,504.18 Tons 6,587 Tons

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of residential students 7,542 4,894
Number of residential employees 15 10
Number of in-patient hospital beds 422 380
Full-time equivalent enrollment 46,109 32,403
Full-time equivalent of employees 26,867 23,215
Full-time equivalent of distance education students 1,195 269

Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Year July 1, 2014 June 30, 2015
Baseline Year July 1, 2004 June 30, 2005

A brief description of when and why the waste generation baseline was adopted:

This baseline is the standard baseline we have adopted throughout all of STARS and was also the same baseline used in our Climate Action Plan.


A brief description of any (non-food) waste audits employed by the institution:

In 2003, UW Recycling commissioned their second waste characterization study to:
--Examine changes in the composition and quantity of materials disposed by the University since the previous study in 1989.
--Evaluate the effective of the waste reduction and recycling programs.
--Identify opportunities for increased material recovery to meet or exceed Seattle’s 60% recycling goal by 2012.
--The study focused on all municipal solid waste disposed by the University main campus from July 2002—June 2003 and the report was published in 2004.

Read full waste characterization study here: http://www.washington.edu/facilities/building/recyclingandsolidwaste/files/archives/UW_Waste_Characterization_Study_2004.pdf


A brief description of any institutional procurement policies designed to prevent waste:

The UW Climate Action Plan calls for education and outreach programs for faculty staff and students in regard to using and purchasing of goods and printing and copying responsibly (Strategy 7.4.2), and outlines a purchasing policy for products made with post-consumer recycled content products (Strategy 7.4.3). The Paper Conservation Program supports these strategies.


A brief description of any surplus department or formal office supplies exchange program that facilitates reuse of materials:

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 (http://www.uwsurplus.com)
UW Surplus is a self-sustaining department. It receives no direct state funding and must generate revenue to cover all costs.

UW Surplus revenue is generated through sales of items transferred from departments. In fiscal year 2015 (July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015) UW Surplus resale efforts kept 984 tons of material out of the landfill.


A brief description of the institution's efforts to make materials available online by default rather than printing them:

At the University of Washington all course catalogs, schedules and directories are found online. This is also the case with most class materials, as this can be found on class catalyst pages.


A brief description of any limits on paper and ink consumption employed by the institution:

All printing in all computer labs and libraries must be purchased.


A brief description of any programs employed by the institution to reduce residence hall move-in/move-out waste:

UW Recycling’s annual Student Cleanup, Recycle and Moveout (SCRAM) event captures unwanted items from approximately 5,000 departing students who live in the residence halls. The goal of SCRAM is to divert reusable goods from the landfill and donate those items, such as food, books, clothing, household items, school supplies, and toiletries, to charitable organizations. At the end of the academic year, a donation station is set up at each residence hall to encourage donation and reuse. Each station includes instructional signs and collection containers to separate items. There is also space for donating large items like furniture and home theatre equipment. The program has been in place since 2004 and has helped keep nearly 150 tons of material out of the landfill towards donation and reuse instead. SCRAM tries to make moving out of the dorms a little easier. As we like to say, “Don’t just cram it…SCRAM it!”

Watch SCRAM feature story on UWTV! http://uwtv.org/series/uw360/watch/74YMYrdAsgY/


A brief description of any other (non-food) waste minimization strategies employed by the institution:

In 2009, the Washington State Legislature passed Substitute House Bill 2287, directing all state agencies, including the University, to purchase 100% recycled paper and to reduce paper consumption by 30%. A university-wide project team comprised of members of the Seattle, Bothell and Tacoma campuses developed the UW Committee on Paper Reduction to meet the following objectives:

 Transition to purchasing of 100% Post-Consumer Recycled Paper for copiers and printers.
 Increase recycling of all paper products at the University of Washington and 100% of all copy and print paper.
 Reduction of paper consumption by 30% beginning July 1, 2010

 In April 2015, the Odegaard Library (the undergraduate student library) had all their restrooms converted to hand dryers. Thereby reducing the amount of paper towel waste being generated from the building which received over 10,000 visitors per day.

Additionally, the UW’s Climate Action Plan calls for education and outreach programs for faculty staff and students in regard to using and purchasing of goods and printing and copying responsibly (Strategy 7.4.2), and outlines a purchasing policy for products made with post-consumer recycled content products (Strategy 7.4.3). The Paper Conservation Program supports these strategies.

The first initiative the committee took on was getting departments to adopt online class evaluation since class evaluations in the past have all been distributed/processed via printed hardcopies. The Office of Educational Assessment (OEA) has provided course evaluation services to the University of Washington for several decades. Over the past 2.5 years, they have been hard at work developing a brand-new course evaluation (IASystem) that seamlessly integrates with the existing paper-based system while offering a smart, sustainable online option. OEA has released version 1.0 of the new integrated system in Autumn 2013 and is currently working to train departmental coordinators within academic departments at UW Seattle on the use of the online interface. Read about how they did it in their Profile in Green. https://f2.washington.edu/ess/sites/default/files/Profile%20In%20Green%20OEA.pdf

Read information about the committee, the online course evaluation process, and paper reduction metrics here:
https://f2.washington.edu/ess/paper-reduction

Finally, in August 2012, UW Executive Order 13, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability was approved by President Michael Young. This Order states the University will be a leader in implementing best practices and will demonstrate flexibility in adapting to new information, changing approaches, and emerging technologies. The scope of these efforts will encompass all University operations, including: the planning, design, construction, and performance monitoring of facilities; user behaviors and activities in areas such as commuting, travel, land use, and information technology; and the overall cycle of procurement, consumption, and disposal of commodities.

Read full text of Executive Order here: http://green.uw.edu/executive-order)


A brief description of any food waste audits employed by the institution:

Housing & Food Services has conducted waste audits to assess the amount of contamination in their pre- and post-consumer food waste as well as to ascertain the level of packaging that is generated at their campus cafes or residence hall dining facilities to see what zero-waste compostable packaging alternatives exist.
Additionally, UW Recycling hosts a bi-annual event called Trash-In which is a large scale waste audit in a highly visible area on campus. This event raises awareness about what is still going to the landfill that doesn't need to be. Every-other-year on Red Square, campus volunteers suit up and sort through one day’s worth of trash, collected from several UW buildings, in search of recyclable and compostable material. The party-like atmosphere includes popular music, sorting games and challenges. The event explores how much recyclable and compostable material is still being thrown away on campus, and the data collected helps drive UW Recycling programs. For the past four years, Trash-In data show consistently that 22% of materials found in the trash are recycling, 53% are compostable and 25% are actual trash.
Finally, UW Recycling has partnered with the UW Garbology Project (http://uwgarbology.weebly.com/) to conduct trash sorts on a quarterly basis. The sorts are usually tied to a specific class whereby students focus on a particular segment of campus where waste contamination is high and/or waste diversion is low over the course of the quarter. Past examples of projects include:
• Analyzing contamination rates in all 3-streams of the outdoor litter cans (BigBelly Solar Compactors) that capture recycling, compost and landfill material
• Analyzing the before and after waste diversion impacts of the implementation of MiniMax, public area composting and restroom paper towel composting)
• Analyzing the impact/effectiveness of different signage at waste collection stations across campus:
• Analyzing resident waste behavior from the McMahon residence hall (See:
• Analyzing number of disposable cups generated from one campus café location
Data collected helps identify opportunities and recommendations that assist Facilities Services and Housing & Food Services in improving infrastructure, service and programs across campus.
Read full UW Garbology Reports here: http://uwgarbology.weebly.com/uploads/1/3/0/1/13017489/summer_2012_garbology_report.pdf
http://uwgarbology.weebly.com/uploads/1/3/0/1/13017489/rue_and_johnson_2014_mcmahon_report.pdf)
http://uwgarbology.weebly.com/uploads/1/3/0/1/13017489/denny_project_report_v1.0.pdf
http://uwgarbology.weebly.com/uploads/1/3/0/1/13017489/husky_den_signage_analysis_v1.0.pdf


A brief description of any programs and/or practices to track and reduce pre-consumer food waste in the form of kitchen food waste, prep waste and spoilage:

Our Food Services are set up in a retail format with cook to flow and display cooking as the norm, reducing overproduction that occurs in large volume cook and park all you care to eat formats that many of our sister institutions practice.


A brief description of programs and/or practices to track and reduce post-consumer food waste:

Trays are available but in a retail format only. We do not have an all you care to eat program. Don’t offer all you care to eat programs and the use of trays will be a non-issue.


A brief description of the institution's provision of reusable and/or third party certified compostable to-go containers for to-go food and beverage items (in conjunction with a composting program):

We use ceramics in our residence hall food service operations that are returned, washed, and reused.

We have a very robust reusable mug program. Last year, we had 172,000 customers utilize a reusable mug in our cafes and beverage platforms.


A brief description of the institution's provision of reusable service ware for “dine in” meals and reusable and/or third party certified compostable service ware for to-go meals (in conjunction with a composting program):

We provide 100% compostable service ware in all of our food service operations. In operations connected with residence halls, we use reusables for dining in and compostables for take out.


A brief description of any discounts offered to customers who use reusable containers (e.g. mugs) instead of disposable or compostable containers in to-go food service operations:

25 cent discount when using a reusable container. Buy a UW stainless steel mug and get 10 refills for free.


A brief description of other dining services waste minimization programs and initiatives:

Three of our food service operations donate leftover but reusable food entrees and the accompaniments to Food Lifeline to support homeless shelters in close proximity to the University of Washington. In fiscal year 2015, the UW diverted 11 tons of food towards donation rather than landfill.


The website URL where information about the institution’s waste minimization initiatives is available:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.