WSU removes commingled waste options

Recycling center won’t accept certain plastics, will relabel outdoor bins

JULIA GOLAN, Evergreen reporter

WSU is making changes in its recycling program to improve efficiency and cost for the university.

The revamp is in response to a diminishing market for recycled plastic. In July of 2017 WSU was paid $17.10 for one ton of commingled recycling, but in April of 2018 the market had changed so much that it now cost $110.25 to dispose of the commingled recycling.

The new program will no longer offer commingled recycling options due to too much contamination between recyclable and non-recyclable items.

The new recycling program being implemented across campus will instead put its attention on clean compost and clean recycling said Rick Finch, head of Facilities Services-Waste Management.

“We are going to focus on clean (recycling, and), change up the composting program to food only,” Finch said. “A lot of the items that are supposed to be biodegradable aren’t and they cost a lot more than they save.”

Because up to 30 percent of materials being recycled are contaminated or unusable, plastics three through seven will no longer be accepted, he said. That move will allow the center to still accept some recycling instead of shutting down operations completely.

“We want to recycle, people want to recycle,” Finch said. “It’s good for the environment and it costs less than landfill.”

Due to significant contamination issues, all outdoor public containers will be relabeled as landfill waste only. That is only intended as a temporary measure, Finch said, and they expect the recycling market to adjust in the next three to four years.

One of the main reasons the campus is having to deal with over-contamination in the commingled bins is because people do not pay enough attention to where they throw things, as well as confusing signage, Finch said.

Because of this WSU will be implementing new, clearer signs across campus.

“When we took out the bags in the springtime, you couldn’t tell the difference between trash and the commingled,” Finch said. “Recycling must be clean and free of liquid and food residues. If it’s not on the accepted materials list, put it in the trash.”

Any questions about recycling or compost can be directed to Rick Finch at [email protected]