Pilot project in Arntzen Hall aims to reduce landfill waste

The 10x12 program at Western Washington University, in partnership with Academic Custodial services, Facilities Management and the AS Recycling Center, will pilot a waste management improvement project in Arntzen Hall classrooms and labs starting fall quarter 2011.

The Arntzen classroom waste project will enable the Office of Sustainability, ACS and the AS Recycle Center to assess potential landfill waste reduction and cleaning efficacy and to evaluate the collection and removal systems for compostable items with the aim of expanding the pilot, if it's successful.

The goal of the 10x12 program is a 10-percent reduction in utilities consumption and costs by the end of 2012, achieving that goal by encouraging individual actions, technical strategies education and outreach.

Before fall 2011 classes start, individual trash cans will be removed from classrooms, computer labs and class labs in Arntzen Hall. The classroom trash cans will be replaced with posters directing users to waste-sorting stations located in common areas on each floor of the building. Faculty assigned to these classrooms will receive email notification of the project before classes start.

Two new waste-sorting stations have been added on the plaza and the concourse levels of Arntzen Hall, bringing the total number of waste sorting stations throughout the academic areas of the building to eight. Waste-sorting stations maintained by Dining Services also are located in the Atrium dining area. AS Recycle Center barrels for paper, bottles and cans will remain in place throughout the building.

Reducing the amount of landfill trash by improving the sorting of recyclable and compostable material in each building will benefit WWU by reducing waste disposal costs and by reducing the carbon impact of trash disposal and trash breakdown in landfill. The pilot also has the potential of improving cleaning efficiency and thoroughness. Success will depend the cooperation of everyone using the classrooms.

Arntzen Hall was chosen for this pilot project because of the four-part recycle, compost, landfill sorting stations located throughout the building, and because faculty and staff in Arntzen Hall support sustainability efforts through participation in the 10x12 program. Department conservation coordinators in Arntzen Hall are Lucky Tedrow, Sociology; Joan Blackwell, Political Science; Viva Barnes, anthropology; and Diane Knutson and Theresa Tripp, Environmental Studies.

The Arntzen Hall classroom waste project is one of several new waste reduction projects in design or under way at WWU. Others include the composting of paper towels and non-biohazard lab waste from the biology labs as part of the 10x12 program and an upcoming bathroom paper towel composting program in Haggard Hall funded by an AS Green Energy Fee grant.

Western has a successful decades-old recycling program that diverts more than 850 tons of waste from landfills annually. However, waste audits of campus dumpsters and outdoor trash cans reveal that 85 percent of material currently going to landfills could be recycled or composted. Recyclable material makes up 45 percent of WWU dumpster content. The remaining 35 percent is food scraps, food-soiled paper and compostable plastic cups and utensils, which can be diverted and turned into garden compost. Further reduction of waste sent to landfills depends on appropriate sorting at the point of disposal.

For more information about this project, contact Carol Berry, the 10x12 Campus Conservation Program manager, at (360) 650-7979 or carol.berry@wwu.edu.

Every year, the AS Recycle Center conducts waste audits of WWU trash cans to determine how effective various campus recycling and composting programs have been. File photo by Mark Malijan | University Communications intern