Frequently Asked Questions
Click on the question that you want answered, and it will take you to the response below. Have a question that isn't answered on here? Send us an email at email@example.com, and we'll be sure to respond to you as soon as we can.
What is a Waste Zone?
What is a toter?
What goes in the toters?
What is recyclable glass? Where can I recycle it?
What is corrugated cardboard? Where can I recycle it?
Are pizza boxes recyclable?
Where can I recycle batteries?
What is e-waste? How do I recycle it?
What can I do with empty ink cartridges?
Can food containers be recycled?
Is cloth recyclable?
How do I dispose of fluorescent light bulbs?
How do I safely dispose of paint?
Why are there no recycling bins in the dining area of the SUB?
Why does the University provide "compostable cups" but not a composting program?
Why are the sprinklers on in the rain?
How can I work for Sustainability Services?
How can I provide feedback or suggestions to Sustainability Services?
Waste Zones contain trash, commingled recycling, and glass recycling bins. They are located on each floor of residence halls, in disposal closets or alcoves, or in hallways. In addition to being a space for items to be thrown away in passing, these areas are also for students to dipose of the items from the desk-side trash and recycling bins in their dorm rooms.
"Toter" refers to the blue bins that have wheels, and are used to collect commingled materials. These bins are located throughout campus, both in academic and residential buildings. These bins are serviced by sustainability employees.
Commingled Recycling: Plastics #1-5 & 7, aluminum, tin, and paper. Thin cardboard like that of cereal boxes can also go in the commingled recycling bins. Styrofoam, materials with food contamination on them, and glass are not acceptable in the commingled bins.
Recyclable glass includes bottles and jars of all colors, shapes, and sizes. All lids and caps must be removed. Glass dishes, vases, mirrors, incandescent light bulbs, window panes, or other similar glass items are not recyclable. Glass is recycled in small blue bins, found in Wast Zones in residence halls and on every floor in other buildings on campus.
Glass is one of the most difficult and expensive materials to recycle, therefore it is extremely important to keep glass recycling free of contaminants such as liquid and lids/caps to help our glass recycling program stay financially feasible and environmentally sound.
Corrugated cardboard, unlike cardboard used for cereal boxes or other small packages, is thick and has a middle-section of comb. Mail packages and storage boxes are usually made of corrugated cardboard. Please break down this type of cardboard and place it in the designated areas in dorms and breezeways or slide it behind a toter so that it can be collected by Sustainability Services.
While corrugated cardboard can go in the large commingled bins to be recycled, we ask that you break it down and put it in cardboard collection spots because it is a source of revenue for our program. Separating your cardboard from the commingled recycling ensures that our program can stay affordable, efficient, and sustainable.
In order for pizza boxes to be recyclable, they need to be clean of any oil or food residue. Pizza boxes should be placed to the side of the toters or in the designated cardboard areas of dorms, breezeways, and the SUB. If half of the box is clean, it can be pulled off and recycled while the soiled half needs to be thrown away. When Sustainability Services collects the pizza boxes, we will salvage any recyclable part of the boxes and discard the parts with grease or food waste on them.
Batteries are collected to be recycled in the glass bins on campus, in a battery collection bucket at the Info Desk in the SUB, and in glass bins handled by the City of Tacoma off campus. The types of batteries accepted on campus include alkaline, lithium ion, nickel cadmium, and lead acid. The City of Tacoma accepts household batteries such as rechargeable (lithium ion) and alkaline. To properly dispose of batteries in the glass bins, please place them in zip-close bags. We ask that if you are using glass bins on campus, you write on the bag if the batteries are leaking acid so that our team can be protected against unnecessary exposure.
For the University, e-waste includes all sorts of electronics that you wish to dispose of. Small items such as iPods, cell phones, and cables can be placed in the glass bins to be collected by Sustainability Services. For larger items such as laptops, electronic equipment, mini-fridges, and microwaves, please send Sustainability Services an email so that a member of our team can coordinate with you to pick it up to be recycled.
We are very excited to be partnered with a local vendor, Green PC, in recycling electronic waste. Green PC, unlike many other electronic waste "recycling" facilities, refurbishes items that can be fixed or breaks down those that cannot in-house to sell parts locally. Green PC has been a great ally in diverting electronic waste, and the hazardous materials it often contains, from landfills both within the United States and abroad.
Empty ink cartridges can be brought to the collection bin near the upstairs entrance to the bookstore in the SUB, where both ink jet cartridges (from small desk-side printers) and laser jet cartridges (from larger office printers) are collected to be recycled. If your office or department has a large number of empty cartridges, you can send a work order to Sustainability Services to schedule a pickup. If you are a student and would like help recycling a large number of ink cartridges or would like clarification, please send us an email.
Plastic containers can be recycled if they have a recycling symbol on them and are free of any food residue.
We are not able to recycle cloth on campus because the vendor that we use does not accept cloth or other fabrics for recycling. You can try donating your cloth or clothing to any of the local thrift stores. Some of the options are Bargain World, Value Village, Good Will, or Urban Exchange.
Fluorescent light bulbs contain harmful chemicals and should not go in the garbage or recycling bins. If you have fluorescent bulbs that you need to dispose of, please contact Sustainability Services. We will collect the bulbs and dispose of them safely and sustainably.
Paint is another material that should not go in the trash or recycling bins because it contains toxic materials. Please contacts Sustainability Services so that we can collect the paint and dispose of it safely and sustainably.
Because Sustainability Services has had trouble in the past with high amounts of contamination in the dining area of the SUB, it is impractical to put recycling bins in this area. While we value those who recycle correctly and maintain an efficient and sustainable recycling program, contamination not only undermines the purpose of recycling bins but also causes money loss for our program.
Although we do not have a composting program on campus, the University does provide compostable cups. These cups are cost-effective for the University and still break down more quickly in landfills than do normal paper cups.
Many different sectors of the campus have attempted to initiate composting programs throughout the years, but none of these programs has ever succeeded. In the past, composting ventures have included worm bins and composting barrels that were completely student-run. These programs have failed because students are not on campus year-round and the bins are often neglected while students are away from campus, if not also while they are on campus. These smaller-scale projects have always failed to maintain the man-power needed to make them successful. Larger-scale composting is also currently not feasible on our campus. Large composting equipment is not only expensive, but also very space-consuming and as of yet solutions to either of the problems have not been created.
The sprinkler system on campus is very sustainable. While it may seem that the sprinklers are being wasteful because occasionally they are on in the rain, the system relies on data regarding water in the soil to determine how often and how much water should be used when sprinkling. Also, the sprinklers accommodate the next day for any excessive watering the previous day.
Sustainability Services employees work-study, and on occassion non-work-study, students. If you are interested in being a part of the Sustainability Services team, please contact Travis Freidman (Sustainability Coordinator) at firstname.lastname@example.org or Career and Employment Services (CES).
Send us an email at email@example.com or give us a call at campus extension x1560. Our staff will address your feedback as soon as possible and all comments, questions, concerns, and suggestions are welcome.