According to a 2015 NC State University Waste Characterization Study sponsored by the office of Waste Reduction & Recycling, food waste comprises 23.1% of NC State’s landfill waste each year. Compostable papers, paper towels, and other compostable organics make up an additional 14.6%. This means over 1.2 million pounds of uneaten food and compostable papers & organics are ending up in our state’s landfill where it rots and produces methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. Rather than ending up in the landfill, these items can be composted. Composting is a process of recycling organic materials into a rich soil amendment known as compost. Compost can be used to grow new plants, flowers and trees.
COMPOSTING AT NC STATE
In 2010, WRR conducted a waste audit of Fountain Dining Hall and found that 70% of the waste generated was compostable. This led University Dining in partnership with WRR to begin a food waste compost program at 3 eat-in dining facilities: Case, Fountain and Clark. These 3 dining facilities were the first on campus to begin pre-consumer composting. All pre-consumer food waste from trimming, over production and expired food was composted by dining staff as well as any uneaten food and napkins left on student’s plates. As of 2015, compostable materials in the waste stream at dining halls now account for 49.5%- a reduction of 20% from that initial waste audit!
In addition to composting in the campus dining halls, many food service locations including On the Oval, the clubhouse at Lonnie Poole Golf Course and the restaurants in the Talley Student Union compost food items while preparing food behind the scenes.
The first opportunity for students to actively participate in the University’s composting efforts began in March 2014 with the Pizza Box Composting Project. This program allows students to compost pizza boxes, napkins, paper plates and any leftover pizza slices/crust in special dumpsters located near select residence hall waste stations.
The success of the Pizza Box Composting Project inspired students to be more involved on a personal level with composting. EcoVillage, located in Bragaw Hall, began piloting a Residence Hall Compost Project in the fall of 2016. Residents were provided with an in-room composting jar where they could collect their personal food scraps and papers to compost in the current Pizza Box Composting Dumpsters located near Bragaw. A second pilot location at Honors Village will be installed in the spring of 2017.
In addition to these composting projects, On the Oval offers two-post consumer compost stations for diners to utilize after they have finished eating. Talley Student Union also offers multiple post-consumer compost stations for students, faculty and staff to utilize. In February 2017, Talley has also launched paper towel composting in their restrooms.
In 2016, the Administrative Services Buildings I, II, & III began piloting a Zero Waste Workplace program. Combined with bin optimization & education to improve recycling, composting bins were also made available in break rooms & restrooms. As of December 2016, over 2,359 pounds of compostable food & paper has been captured and recycling collections increased by 11%.
Composting is also available by request for special events. WRR provides students, staff, and departments with access to these bins for events of any size, including the annual Krispy Kreme Challenge!
All of the compost generated on campus is transported once a week by WRR staff to Brooks Contractor. Brooks is owned by NC State Alumna, Amy Brooks. Brooks sells the compost to individuals and companies that use the product for landscape projects as well as larger construction jobs that work with no real topsoil.
Waste Reduction & Recycling is also researching the feasibilty of creating and operating our own compost site on campus to both utilize the finished product on campus and allow students, faculty, and staff members to improve their understanding of closed-loop systems through hands-on learning.
- Compost Process Poster
- Pizza Box Compost Process Poster
- Composting Process Video
- 2015 NC State University Waste Characterization Study
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