Pilot composting program appears in Bear’s Den
Dining Services and the Office of Sustainability have teamed up to test the logistics of post-consumer composting in Bear’s Den.
Last year, Dining Services began composting extra food from its kitchens—food that had not reached the consumer. Between the Village, DUC and Bear’s Den, Dining Services’ composting program diverted over 80,000 pounds of pre-consumer food waste from the landfill last year.
The new program, introduced this fall, involves Dining Services placing a single composting bin at the Bear’s Den dish return.
Dining Services chose to start the program on a small scale to work through any issues, according to Jill Duncan, director of marketing for Dining Services.
She noted that Bear’s Den was chosen to pilot the program because of its proximity to the Dining Services office and its accessibility to new students.
To draw attention to the program and minimize compost contamination, Dining Services and the Office of Sustainability have been working to add signs to the dish return area.
The University has also begun a “Compost Ambassadors” program, which involves placing representatives at the dish return during high-activity times to tell students where to dispose of their food waste.
If the University’s compost has more than a 10 percent contamination rate, it will incur charges from the composting company.
Students are generally supportive of the initiative.
“I use [the compost bin] whenever it’s there,” freshman Eric Neiman said. “It seems like a good program.”
Some added that composting is an easy way to make an environmental impact.
“[It’s] better than throwing [waste] in the trash,” he said. “It’s a small, incredibly easy thing to do.”
Other students, however, don’t find composting quite as effortless.
“It’s slightly annoying, but I still do it,” freshman Alana Deutsch said. “It just takes that much longer [to compost].”
While the University’s composting initiative began as an effort through only Dining Services, the University foresees a campus-wide post-consumer composting program sometime in the future.
Presently, however, the University hasn’t made any immediate plans to expand the program beyond Bear’s Den.
“At some point in the future, hopefully we can expand elsewhere on campus,” Sustainability Coordinator Will Fischer said. “It’s been a learning process for us…because we have to educate the community on what can and cannot be composted.”