Aaron Calzado • Designer

Throw It Back!

Radical changes in waste technology and management are happening at a rapid pace, but even with the most current up-to-date technology we still fall short in educating the general public on proper waste management practices.

How can we encourage University of Washington citizens to properly dispose of their trash?

Throw It Back! is a waste management system designed to inform and educate the general public on good waste management practices through the use of a low-cost interchangeable signage system that adapts to current waste trends. By focusing on specific sites with high waste traffic, site monitors can follow waste trends and react accordingly to divert recyclable material from our ever growing landfills.


In 2011, the University of Washington Recycling & Solid Waste department reported that the University of Washington composted and recycled approximately 57% of its garbage. This effort alone saved the school over $900,000 in spendings. The rest of the 43% of garbage that was not composted or recycled measured up to approximately 5,000 tons of garbage which equaled to about 1.3 million dollars in spending for UW that same year. Despite employing a variety of waste management initiatives, the University of Washington Garbology department discovered severe garbage contamination between the compost (about 7% contamination), recycling (about 39% contamination), and waste bins (about 88% contamination).

Currently, garbage contamination is a big issue to the waste management efforts made by the UW Recycling & Solid Waste. Garbage contamination in terms of waste management is the deciding factor in whether or not garbage can be composted or recycled. Simply throwing away garbage is not good enough in this day and age. In fact, thoughtlessly disposing of garbage is just as bad as littering.

“Trash only becomes trash after it has first served a useful purpose. It becomes litter only after people thoughtlessly discard it.”
— Heritage of Splendor, 1963

Aside from preserving the environment, tackling this issue can lower spending fees for the University of Washington thus saving money for both taxpayers and student. But most of all, teach UW citizen to become literate in waste management and possibly influence surrounding communities.

Associated Links

University of Washington Recycling and Solid Waste
University of Washington Garbology

Project Date

Spring 2013, 10 weeks


Axel Roesler