Waste Reduction Program Honored for Best Sustainability Practices

Humboldt State University is among the 10 California State University campuses to win the 23-campus system’s Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Best Practices Awards for 2012.

The Chancellor’s Office cited HSU’s Innovative Waste Reduction Program, a partnership with the Humboldt Waste Management Authority and Environmental Science Associates to divert 100 percent of the campus’s organic waste by 2013.

T.C. Comet, director of HSU’s Office of Sustainability, said, “The award recognizes that a small rural university like ours can innovate successfully in new fields of endeavor, and into the bargain make energy-saving gains with far fewer resources than those enjoyed by our big-city counterparts. And working closely with our progressive community partners, we know we will able to build on our diversion program far into the future.”

Announced last summer, the program’s first 12-18 months are devoted to laying the diversion project’s foundations and working out the logistics.

In the meantime, HSU’s student-run Waste Reduction and Resource Awareness Program annually diverts about four tons (8,000 pounds) of compostable waste out of the landfill.

As part of the new food diversion program cited by the CSU, Comet projects that eventually, volume might soar to 300 tons of organic waste shunted out of the landfill every year.

Pre- and post-consumer organic waste will be collected from campus eateries like the “J” Cafeteria, with the cooperation of Dining Services.
Organic waste also will be collected from newly installed, wildlife-resistant compost bins placed around campus.

The plan is to transfer organic waste to the Humboldt Waste Management’s authority’s new anaerobic food waste digester. There, bacteria will break down the waste in an oxygen-free environment, resulting in two main byproducts: one that can be used to create electricity to power the Elk River wastewater treatment plant in Eureka and the other to produce nutrient-rich fertilizer.

Details about HSU sustainability initiatives are posted at humboldt.edu/green. Information about the student-run Waste Reduction and Resource Awareness Program is at humboldt.edu/wrrap. The rundown on the Humboldt Waste Management Authority’s Food Waste Program is at http://www.hwma.net/food-waste.