Mar 30, 2016
Humboldt State University is taking a big step toward reducing its food waste with the introduction of a broad food waste program that promises big results.
With the expansion of composting efforts, staff in the Office of Sustainability will collect food waste and food-soiled paper from all campus eateries, including the Jolly Giant Commons cafeteria, the South Campus Marketplace, and the Depot food court. Collections will expand to the residence halls by the end of the semester.
The new Food Waste Diversion Program involves a 20-cubic-yard composting bin installed near the J cafeteria. The new bin allows the campus to compost all food, including meat, dairy, the clamshell food containers sold in the Depot, and compostable bioplastic utensils. The expanded program is expected to handle as much as 280,000 pounds of food waste per year.
A 2014 study revealed that a large portion of the waste that HSU sends to the landfills is actually compostable or recyclable. “About 49 percent was compostable and another large portion was recyclable,” says Tim Scully, a junior studying Environmental Management & Protection, and intern with the Waste Reduction & Resource Awareness Program (WRRAP). “With the implementation of the food waste diversion program, we can keep even more compostables out of the landfill waste stream,” he says.
Students in WRRAP are launching an educational campaign to let the campus know about the expanded composting. They will post informational signs in the J and Depot and will host a series of workshops educating the campus on how to best dispose of waste.
HSU suspended its previous food waste diversion efforts in 2014 when the local municipal composting program was shuttered.
The Sustainability Office and WRRAP responded by scaling down composting to focus on collecting from campus composting bins and buckets and processing the waste in the Earth Tub, a fully-enclosed composting vessel that can handle up to 100 pounds of waste a day. In a year, the composting program was capable of processing 8,000 pounds of food waste, which was composted into soil for campus landscaping and the gardens at the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology.