UW Receives Award at 2021 EPA Regional Food Challenge | Community

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The UW Seattle campus received a regional award from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for diverting 10,720 pounds of food in 2020 that would otherwise have been overlooked as part of the 2021 Food Recovery Challenge. Pacific Northwest regional winners also included PCC Community Markets, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Seattle Mariners/T-Mobile Park, Microsoft Headquarters Campus and Gonzaga University.

According to EPA website, the Food Recovery Challenge is a competition between organizations and companies to reduce food waste. Top performing organizations receive recognition from the EPA.

“The award is excellent in terms of connecting with broader sustainability goals, particularly in terms of reducing our overall waste,” said Daimon Eklund, UW’s sustainability communications manager. “Food waste efforts directly correlate to Goal 9 of the Sustainability Action Planreducing our overall waste generated on campus by 10% by 2025.”

The Sustainability Action Plan was adopted by UW in 2021 and sets out 10 goals to increase UW’s sustainability. The plan is guided by the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion; education; to research; responsible use of resources; and the decarbonization of energy sources.

“One of the things I love about Goal 9 is that instead of just making sure we recycle and compost properly, it looks at, ‘How are we reducing our overall waste?’ “, said Eklund.

UW Recycling was responsible for collecting waste data on the Seattle campus. One of the strategies employed by UW Recycling to reduce waste was the MiniMax program.

“Every office on campus has a big recycling component and a tiny little trash can,” said Liz Gignilliat, acting director of building services and former director of UW Recycling. “It helps administrative staff to be aware of how much they throw away and empowers them to take out the waste themselves – it’s not the caretaker’s job anymore.”

Along with the MiniMax program, UW Recycling simplified the difference between trash, recycling, and composting by adding descriptive signs above most trash cans on campus.

“We’re providing whatever support we can to UW Dining by making recommendations for their bins and helping them find compostable products,” Gignilliat said. “Obviously it’s very important to their program to salvage food and avoid as much waste as possible.”

Many UW departments work together to achieve sustainability goals.

“If you look at the details of the recovery efforts, it’s not just housing and food services, but they’re also working with the food pantry and with UW Farm and the recycling office,” Eklund said. “It really shows that these kinds of efforts really do require collaboration, and when you bring a lot of people together, it creates better benefits and more opportunities.”

The UW Farm plays an important role in campus sustainability efforts and, according to its website, aims to put education first by teaching people how to build urban landscapes that are both efficient and sustainable.

“At UW Farm, we have a real kind of emerging need, especially due to COVID, to feed people who don’t have access to food,” said UW Farm Manager Perry Acworth. “We ramped up during COVID and 25,000 pounds of product was produced, and we sent 5,000 pounds to the UW pantry.”

Acworth added that the farm relies on volunteers to help it achieve its goals and the need for volunteers is greatest during the summer holidays. Interested students should visit their website.

the UW Pantry provides food for members of the UW community who struggle to put food on the table. Anyone with a Husky ID can pick up food and hygiene supplies free of charge from the Pantry, located in Poplar Hall 210.

“The UW Farm, UW Food Pantry and UW Dining, we regularly work together and our goals overlap,” Acworth said. “How can we source locally, how can we reduce the carbon footprint of food, and how can we also reach the food insecure? »

Contact reporter Kylie Rashkin at [email protected] Twitter @kylierashkin

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