Western named Recycler of the Year

The Washington State Recycling Association has selected Western Washington University to receive the 2013 Institution/Higher Education Recycler of the Year award.

The Washington State Recycler of the Year awards spotlight individuals, businesses, government organizations and community organizations that are making contributions to strengthening and expanding recycling and waste prevention practices across the state.

In 1971, Western became one of the first universities in the U.S. to have a campus recycling program. The Associated Students Recycle Center is student-run and collects 3,800 pounds of recyclables from Western’s campus daily, and almost 1 million pounds each year.

“This award reflects waste reduction efforts that we’re seeing across campus, from the AS Recycle Center, Dining Services, Facilities Management, University Residences and many others,” Seth Vidaña, Western’s Office of Sustainability Campus Sustainability Manager, said. “Partnerships have been key for our success.”

Western uses a number of projects and outreach strategies to increase involvement in the campus waste reduction program. Each quarter, one athletic event becomes the site of a “Go Green” game, where waste reduction and energy conservation tips are provided throughout the game and a waste-recycling competition takes place on the floor during halftime. Also each quarter, the Air and Waste Management student club sorts 100-200 lbs. of waste from select buildings for landfill composition data.

In 2009, the dining halls piloted trayless dining and have reduced about 30 percent of food waste since. Stand-alone trash containers in select buildings were removed and replaced with a four-part sorting station that include paper, cans and bottles, organic waste and landfill containers. Western also installed water bottle refill stations across campus.

These strategies are all a part of the “Zero Waste Western” campaign. Through education, operational changes, and peer education, Western’s Office of Sustainability and partners are committed to eliminating landfill waste from the institution.

“We hope this will add momentum to a unified goal of achieving ‘Zero Waste Western.’ We’re excited to work with campus stakeholders on the multiple challenges that remain between here and there,” Vidaña said.

WRSA will highlight Western Washington University at the Awards Banquet and Best Practices Breakfast Forum at the WRSA annual conference on May 12-15, in Stevenson.

For more information on Zero Waste Western, visit www.wwu.edu/sustain/initiatives/recycling/