Everything we throw away is something that we don’t need. That may seem self-evident, but combined with life-cycle thinking it means an opportunity to reduce manufacturing emissions, energy consumption, transportation, and even raw materials extraction associated with whatever object we didn’t need. “Reduce, reuse, recycle” remains a powerful hierarchy of solid waste management, but there are even more details of product and materials management, economics, and urban ecology that can receive both our research attention and our operational attention.

Status updates

Target actions for 2024

View actions for past fiscal years

Sustainability plan guiding principles

  •  Ensure students achieve sustainability literacy
  •  Choose our research conscientiously
  •  Keep equity and inclusion at the center
  •  Use resources responsibly
  •  Decarbonize

UW Recycling plans to expand the number of compost bins in 15 buildings on the Seattle campus as they update the buildings’ waste infrastructure to support single-stream recycling. This will include improved signage and ensuring compost bins are available in common areas and other areas where food will regularly be consumed or prepared.

In addition, UW Recycling will focus outreach efforts in high-traffic dining areas, including tabling during the Fall quarter at campus dining halls, and updating signage in District Market and the Suzzallo Starbucks. Other outreach initiatives will include Dawg Daze events targeted to new students, and promoting tours of Recology’s materials recovery facility (MRF) which sorts single-stream recycling.  

A major opportunity to reduce contamination rates is the UW Medical Center - Montlake. UW Recycling will partner with UW Medicine Environmental Services to implement new strategies aimed at addressing sources of contamination in the UWMC recycling.

Focus on residence halls

Student residence halls remain a source of high contamination rates. UW Recycling and Housing & Food Services will again distribute door hangers with waste sorting guidance to every residence hall, apartment and family housing unit early in Fall quarter, as well as proving waste sorting training to RAs who can share the information with the residents on their floors. 

Housing & Food Services is expanding the Ozzi container program to provide reusable containers for students. HFS has worked with student groups to pilot the Ozzi program with a small population of students for several years. Starting in Fall 2023, all incoming students on a dining plan (about 9,000 students) will be provided with a complementary Ozzi container to use for takeout items. These Ozzi containers can be turned back in at collection machines in dining locations on campus for a fresh container. The used containers are then cleaned and reused. The expansion also includes adding a third collection machine to the two existing collection points on campus.