The Denny Project was a collaborative project between UW Recycling and UW Garbology. The purpose was to measure the waste diversion effectiveness of two programs (restroom paper towel composting and the MiniMax program) on a typical campus building.
For 4 weeks, the waste of Denny Hall was sampled, sorted, and measured twice a week by UW Garbology volunteers. As Denny hall contained no compost bins prior to his project, the diversion rates were entirely driven by the ratio of waste deposited in recycling bins versus landfill-bound waste bins. Sampling and analysis was then repeated to generate an identical number of sampled days representing the “after” characterization of Denny Hall’s waste. During this stage, waste drawn from newly-implemented compost bins was separated into two categories- paper towels and “other” to allow direct estimation of the impacts of restroom paper towel composting as distinct from composting due to the implementation of the MiniMax program.
The implementation of these two programs was successful in increasing waste diversion in Denny Hall by almost exactly 10% (from 42.6% waste diversion to 52.5%). In just Denny Hall alone, the implementation of these programs resulted in .83 fewer landfilled tons over the 2013-2014 academic year alone and around 3.5% lower waste-disposal costs. Furthermore, the efficiency of these programs is expected to increase and could easily reduce Denny Hall’s landfilled waste production by well over a ton over the course of the coming year. If implemented campus-wide, these programs will have an immense impact on UW’s sustainability, as well as its fiscal bottom line. If, beyond this, we can also push for more efficient use of these systems by the UW community, this infrastructure will provide a baseline for truly astounding improvement, and could even push our waste diversion rates to well over 92%.