In 2018, UW Recycling set a goal of 70% waste diversion by 2020. However, the program recently decided to shift to a new goal of 10% less landfilled waste by 2025. According to UW Recycling, the diversion rate is one indicator of how successfully the university is keeping materials out of landfills. The rate is used to measure how the institution is doing compared to previous years, other higher education institutions, and the City of Seattle.

A waste diversion goal of 70% would mean only 30% of all waste would be sent to the landfill, and everything else would be repurposed and resold, recycled, or composted. “We did not achieve this goal,” Audrey Taber, interim manager of UW Recycling, said. “The diversion rate for fiscal year 2020 was 61%, and this is consistent with 61% in fiscal years 2018 and 2019.”

Taber said UW Recycling previously shipped a lot of recycling to China. In 2018, China enacted the  National Sword policy, which decreased the importation of contaminated recyclables. “We want to focus on reducing the amount of waste we made in the first place, not just recycling,” Taber said. “By measuring how much less waste we are sending to the landfill, that’s a more useful indicator of how we are doing at reducing the waste.”

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