UW Tacoma is primed to collect food waste along with the paper, plastic and aluminum it already recycles. While Seattle and Bothell have both implemented composting programs, little sister Tacoma has yet to get the ball rolling.
The Tacoma campus is smaller than both Seattle and Bothell with Autumn 2014 enrollment in Seattle at 44,786, Bothell at 4,963, and 4,501 in Tacoma. Those rates demonstrate that if Seattle and Bothell can support composting, UWT could easily establish a program too.
In the United States, nearly two thirds of municipal solid waste (MSW) is organic and could be composted, while approximately 70 percent of U.S. MSW is sent to landfills or incinerated.
When applied to centers for higher education, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states, “By reducing food sent to landfills or incinerators, schools can save money and reduce their environmental impact” which is directly in line with UWT’s Committee on Sustainability mission to create and promote a sustainable university community.
In 2013, UW Seattle diverted 58 percent of its waste stream away from the landfill, saving more than 1.2 million dollars for the university. Along with saving money, composting made a net reduction of more than 9,300 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, a major component of climate change.
The city of Tacoma also recognizes the importance of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and extending the life of landfills. In April 2012 the city implemented a residential food and yard waste recycling program and followed up quickly with a commercial program.