At University of Idaho, waste management and waste reduction are top priorities. As a sustainable institution, we strive to reduce our carbon footprint and impact on the natural environment by reducing how much waste we produce and disposing of our waste properly. Explore our waste programs below and learn more about how you can contribute to responsible waste management.
- Recommendation 3.5: Reconstitute a Moscow campus recycling program and hire dedicated recycling staff.
- Recommendation 3.6: Research and implement technology and systems to reduce and reuse food waste, such as donating non-spoiled food, starting a composting program and installing digestors.
- Recommendation 3.7: Establish procurement standards by which to reduce or eliminate single-use plastic on campus in dining services, vending and research labs; this would include providing reusable to-go containers at dining locations, replacing single-use straws and cutlery with compostable or reusable products and adding water bottle fill stations in each building.
The University of Idaho uses a single-stream campus-wide recycling system. For more information on campus recycling, visit Vandals Recycle, our new recycling dashboard!
What is composting?
Composting is a great way for individuals to dispose of organic waste in an environmentally responsible manner. Composting is the process that converts organic materials, like food waste, into nutrient-rich soil or mulch through natural decomposition. The end product of the process is called compost and is typically a dark, crumbly, earthy material that can be used in agriculture, gardening and other outdoor projects.
Why should we compost?
Composting at home can reduce how much trash we send to the landfill and can help build healthy soil. As nature’s own recycling process, composting helps address climate change and can help build more resilient and beneficial waste streams for communities. When we compost, we reduce the trash sent to landfills that would eventually emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. We also save money by producing high-quality soil amendment that we can use in place of fertilizers and pesticides while also improving plant growth in gardens and yards.
There are different ways you can compost at home, whether it be through a back-yard composting pile, vermicomposting (worm composting) system or by dropping off your compostable materials at a community composting site. Composting takes minimal effort; with the proper balance of conditions and materials, nature takes care of the rest.
Where can we compost?
In Moscow, there are a couple of places where you can take your compostable materials:
- Palouse Clearwater Environmental Institute (PCEI)
- Accepted materials: kitchen waste (fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee filters, eggshells, napkins), animal fur, shredded newspaper
- Unaccepted materials: compostable plastics, meat products, dairy products, separated cooking oil, yard waste, trash and recyclables
- Learn more about PCEI.
- Hamilton Community Garden
- Accepted materials: kitchen waste (fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee filters, eggshells, napkins), animal fur, shredded newspaper, organic garden waste (ornamental flowers and vegetable plants NOT treated with pesticides)
- Unaccepted materials: compostable plastics, grass clippings, wood, tree and shrub trimmings, invasive plants, dirt, meat products, dairy products, separated cooking oil, trash and recyclables
- Learn more about the Hamilton Community Garden.
- Inland North Waste (Moscow Recycling Center)
- Accepted materials: leaves, branches (up to 4 ft. Long or 6 in. Diameter), grass clippings, weeds, garden waste, brush/shrub trimmings, Christmas trees, bark
- Unaccepted materials: stumps, dirt, sod, rocks, food waste, pet feces, manure, lumber and construction debris
- Learn more about composting yard waste at the Moscow Recycling Center.
Facilities manages the solid waste program for U of I. Visit the Solid Waste page to read the solid waste guidelines and charges.
University Surplus manages the auction and sale of university assets that are no longer being used. Instead of throwing away older items, employees can take them to Surplus and have them resold. Having a surplus system is a great way to reduce how much waste we produce as a university and provide quality second-hand items to our community. The Surplus store is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday. For more information, visit the Surplus website.
Why Is This Important?
Waste can be one of the most difficult environmental challenges to tackle. The material goods that we wind up throwing away have environmental and human health consequences during the extraction of natural resources, the production of the goods, their transportation and ultimately, their disposal.
When we throw our trash in our bins, most of us don’t know what happens to it. Where does it go? What does it turn into? Not seeing what happens to our trash has led to an “out of sight, out of mind” approach to waste generation and disposal. Consequently, we may produce as much trash as we want without thinking about the resulting environmental impacts.
The reality is that trash has significant environmental impacts. Irresponsible waste disposal can create pollution in the air, water and soil. Chemical and hazardous wastes can expose us and other life to dangerous toxins, affecting the health of entire communities. Waste also creates greenhouse gases that accelerate atmospheric warming; municipal solid waste landfills are the 3rd largest source of human-related methane emissions in the U.S. Read more about the environmental impacts of waste from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Ways You Can Help
Learn more about how waste affects the environment. In the Resources tab, you will find many websites and reports that discuss how much pollution waste creates and how to minimize it. Then, learn how to dispose of your waste properly. Knowing how to differentiate between recyclable, compostable and landfill materials is not easy, and it is often regionally-specific. In the Resources tab below, you will see websites that explain what can be recycled, composted and trashed in the city of Moscow. And finally, act. Do your part in disposing of your waste properly and encourage your fellow Vandals to do the same.
If you would like to learn more about waste, the following are great learning resources:
University of Idaho Waste Reports and Documents
- Recycling at University of Idaho Events
- Kibbie Dome Waste Characterization Study
- University of Idaho Campus Food Strategic Plan
- Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Production Feasibility Study
- U of I Electronic Waste Disposal Fee Schedule & Guidelines
- University of Idaho Waste Characterization - 2009
- Action Plan for U of I Surplus
- Waste Minimization & Increased Recycling at University of Idaho
Environmental Impacts of Waste
- EPA Report on the Environment - Wastes
- EPA Information about Landfill Emissions
- UNEP Waste Not: The Heavy Toll of our Trash
- Earth 911: Recycling Database for Hard-to-Recycle Products
- EPA – The U.S. Recycling System
- City of Moscow Recycling
- Moscow Recycling Center