Striving For Zero Waste
Thirty thousand people shuffle in and out of the UW’s Housing and Food Services’ (HFS) many dining facilities each day, likely unaware of where their food waste ends up after it’s dropped into the compost bin.
Once an old apple core or pizza slice leaves someone’s hands, it’s picked up by a truck from Cedar Grove, self-proclaimed as “Pacific Northwest’s leading organic recycling company,” which for the last several years has been tasked with finding a place for all of the UW’s food waste.
“[The] UW’s tonnage is a pretty big chunk,” Susan Thoman, Cedar Grove’s director of business development, said.
The UW ships about 1,017 tons of food waste a year to Cedar Grove’s processing facility in Everett, where the waste enters an eight-week process Thoman refers to as “highly technical and highly controlled.” During this time period, the waste is broken down into compost, a nutrient-rich material that is used as both a fertilizer and soil amendment allowing for new food production.