Waste Management

Washington State University is committed to the proper management of its solid waste. By diverting its solid waste from the landfills to reuse and recycling programs, WSU is taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint and remain committed to its Climate Action Plan.

Please watch an entertaining, yet informative video from the film, “Plastic China,” on the current waste issue.

What Happens to Waste at WSU?

WSU’s solid waste is managed by Facilities Services Operations. Facilities Services Operations Waste Management surplus and recycling programs have been developed to reuse surplus items and recycle comingled paper, plastic, cardboard, and aluminum.  In addition, Facilities Services started a compost facility in 1994 to divert organic waste from the landfill. This not only minimizes impacts to the environment, but provides economic sustainability for waste management services. The combination of these programs has resulted in approximately 74% of WSU’s solid waste being diverted from the landfill.

Non-WSU residence and apartments solid waste are managed by Pullman Disposal Services (PDS). The recycling material PDS picks up goes through a single stream recycling system where more types of plastics and almost all paper types can go. Single stream is a very convenient way to recycle and reduces the chances of something being put into the wrong bin.

Why is this Important?

The common phrase, “out of sight, out of mind” is possibly the most apt for the handling of our garbage. When people throw their trash out, they forget that it has to go somewhere. That somewhere is a landfill. As previously stated, these enormous pits are filled with garbage that is compacted over and over again to allow as much waste to be put in one area. These vast expanses of garbage have the potential to pollute the soil and air. They also suffocate and encroach upon the habitats of the native wildlife of the area and are harmful additions when animals attempt to eat the garbage. The reduction in our waste, or the reuse and recycling of said waste is a simple way to mitigate this problem.

How you can Help- Know what Waste can be Recycled and Composted

It is common to not understand clearly what waste should be recycled, composted, co-mingled, or trash. There are many options of bins that one piece of trash may go into, which makes disposal confusing and difficult. For On-Campus living situations at WSU, like residence halls or apartment complexes, there are both recycling and landfill options provided by WSU Facility Services. To make recycling clearer, the following listed some materials that should be recycled and not go to the landfill:

  • Paper (Envelopes, Newspapers, Notebook Pages, Etc.)
  • Clean Cans
  • Clean Milk Cartons
  • Cardboard
  • Clean, Thick Plastics (NOT Plastic bags or Saran Wrap)

For Off-Campus living situations at WSU, all waste disposal and recycling is handled by Pullman Disposal Services. Recycling bins are options for houses if they prefer to pay a little extra on their bill for it, but it is worth every penny! The largest amount of recycling material is produced off campus, so if you live off campus, do your part and know how to recycle!

Composting is another great way to minimize waste going to landfills. It is common for a household to provide their own bin to compost on their property for themselves to manage. Most waste that is thrown away in the trash can be put into a compost bin. This includes all food waste, some types of napkins, and biodegradable products/food storage containers. Many people do not have a compost bin, so many people tend to throw their waste away. All it takes is buying a typical trash bin and putting a few holes in it to allow the contents to remain aerated. That is how simple it is to divert waste from a landfill turned into usable compost soil.