UW Tacoma has launched a composting program with the goal of reducing waste on campus. One of the University's largest sources of trash is also one of the more surprising. "Restroom paper towels generate a huge amount of waste,” said University of Washington Tacoma Facilities Services Support Supervisor Tessa Coleman. An estimated 30-35% of the trash generated by non-retail spaces on campus is paper towels.
In an effort to curtail what ends up in landfills, Facilities Services has placed paper towel collection bins inside restrooms in academic buildings. Signs have also been installed to promote proper disposal.
Paper towel composting began in early October. The next phase of the project is now underway and included making the solar powered composters on the Prairie Line Trail operational. Special composting bins will soon start appearing in different spaces around campus like the first floor atrium inside West Coast Grocery. "We're going to have signs up that identify what material goes in what bin," said Coleman. "The bins will also be marked: gray for solid waste, blue for recycling, and green for compost."
Facility Services already has a jump on reducing the volume of paper towels consumed by students, staff, and faculty. “Most of the primary floor restrooms have been switched over to hand dryer units,” said Coleman. “The model we chose is great because they actually power down completely when not in use, offer a longer life span than other options, and are maintenance friendly.”
The campus generates more than five tons of compacted waste every week. These seemingly small changes could help to lower this number.
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org