Where is Away

After you throw an item away, where does it go? Where is away?

A common misconception regarding our waste is the idea of throwing something “away.” Most people do not consider where “away” is. At PLU we strive to understand this concept and know where our waste is going. PLU’s waste is diverted into a variety of categories that are sent to and processed at different locations described below.

Environmental Services Staff (both in Cleaning Services, and student staff in Waste Diversion) collect co-mingled and glass recycling in campus buildings. These items are brought down to Facilities Management where Waste Diversion student staff make sure there are no contaminants (trash or other items not meant for the co-mingled recycling) and make sure that glass is sorted out. Then they place the co-mingled  in a large recycling dumpster and the glass in a separate glass recycling dumpster.

When these on campus dumpsters get full LeMay hauls them to the Tacoma Recovery and Transfer Center. Where they are sorted and prepared to be recycled!

Most of our metal recycling is put into our co-mingled recycling (such as soda and soup cans), larger metal items however, are collected and recycled separately.

Items such as old trash cans, and broken filing cabinets are placed into our large metal dumpster and hauled free of charge by Pearson Metal Recycling, where it is broken down and recycled.

Some of our paper and cardboard recycling is put in our co-mingled recycling, however, we strive to separate most of the office paper and cardboard recycling separately. Canvas bags in office spaces are utilized in collecting just paper and cardboard products to help staff sort these items out of the single stream co-mingled recycling.

PLU began working with Caraustar a company that recycles paper and cardboard and turns it into paperboard in January 2016.  Caraustar works with LeMay to haul our paper and cardboard free of charge to their location for processing.

Compost is collected in academic and office buildings by Waste Diversion student staff and consolidated into large green compost totes at the AUC (these same totes are used at large campus events). When these totes are full they are collected by LeMay.

Our Grounds Services crew collects any yard waste (including leaves, branches and other yard debris) and places it in a large yard waste dumpster. This dumpster is also collected by LeMay when it is full.

Both our compost and yard waste are taken to the Tacoma Recovery & Transfer Center and processed into dirt and mulch!

Any old batteries, used ink cartridges and toners, or broken electronics from campus departments are brought to (or picked up by) the Waste Diversion Department. When we have accumulated enough of these items we bring them to SBK Electronic Recycling, a local recycling company, where they are broken down and processed to be reused or recycled properly.

Any material that cannot be recycled and is placed in landfill containers, dumpsters or large green landfill totes on campus is picked up by LeMay several times a week and brought to the Tacoma Recovery & Transfer Station.

Hazardous material, such as chemical waste from the Chemistry department, aerosol cans, and light bulbs are processed through our Hazardous Waste program. This program is under the supervision of PLU’s Department of Environmental Health, Safety, and Emergency Programs.