Whitworth honored for its recycling program

Whitworth honored for its recycling program
Whitworth University
Photo Credit: Whitworth University

Whitworth University has been named Recycler of the Year in the higher education category by the Washington State Recycling Association.

The university partnered with Spokane’s Resource Synergy last fall and found that most of its waste – about 1,000 pounds a day – comprised compostable food and paper products.

The majority of waste was produced in the dining area of the Hixson Union Building. Whitworth and its dining vendor, Sodexo, put a new food waste reduction program into place that included the following measures: Kitchen employees were trained to capture food trimmings in new compost dollies, Cafeteria workers began focusing on portion control, New signs and plate scrape bins were added, making it easier for students to compost leftovers. In a matter of weeks, Whitworth had decreased its waste by 70 percent.

“Whitworth and Sodexo, with the advice and training from Resource Synergy, have aligned our waste streams making us better stewards of God’s resources,” says Chris Eichorst, director of facilities at Whitworth. “This program has also allowed us to save thousands of dollars in the process.”

Whitworth recently received a $9,000 grant from the PepsiCo Recycling’s Zero Impact Fund. The money will be used to create a new vermicomposting program this summer. The program will use thousands of worms to transform waste. The compost generated will be used for innovative organic grounds-keeping, seasonal food production in the student garden, and a research project to test the durability of athletic fields treated with organic compost rather than the standard chemicals.

Whitworth students are heavily involved in the program as well. Biology and chemistry students will conduct quarterly soil tests and Whitworth’s environmental justice group, Kipos, will determine which local charities and small farms are best suited to accept leftover food donations from Sodexo. The vermicomposting program is also saving the university money. Dumpster collection has been reduced by 50 percent and trash pick-ups are now on an as-needed basis – about once every two months, instead of weekly.

Whitworth and Sodexo will hold a “Cake on the Green” reception on Wednesday, May 9, at 11:30 a.m.
outside the Hixson Union Building to showcase the university’s expanded recycling program.