University Dining Looks at Composting

A recent audit by N.C. State Waste Reduction and Recycling Office found that 70 percent of waste generated at Fountain Dining Hall was compostable. The four-hour audit, which took place in January 2010, was performed by volunteer students who sorted, shoveled and weighed bags of garbage from N.C. State’s largest dining hall.

“This was great news to us,” said Analis Fulghum, education and outreach coordinator for WRR. “The audit shows great potential to divert a large amount of waste from landfill.”

N.C. State University currently diverts 45 percent of its waste from the landfill by recycling, reusing and composting yard waste, and has a goal to increase diversion to 65 percent by 2015. Based on the waste audit report, University Dining could have a significant impact on achieving that goal.
University Dining is already making the switch toward making composting a reality by taking out single-use items like ketchup packets.

“We already have many initiatives that are in line with the university’s overall goal to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Randy Lait, director of Dining Services. “We appreciate the work WRR did to complete the waste audit and look forward to exploring the possibility of composting for our dining halls.”

The Waste Reduction and Recycling Office also won a $10.000 grant from the Wake County Commercial Waste Reduction Grant Program in an effort to drive the composting program forward and offset start-up costs.

This is not the first time the university has started composting on a large scale; the Waste Reduction and Recycling Office manages a yard waste site that composts branches, limbs and other organic material. The material is then composted and brought back onto campus as a soil amendment.

“The process of switching from all waste in the dining halls to composting will take some time and further research to ensure the sustainability and viability of this program on both WRR’s and University Dining’s part,” says Fulghum. “But it will be an exciting step forward once this goal is realized.”

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