MU plans to implement compost program
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 01:10
As part of the commitments and goals that Miami University’s Sustainability Committee introduced last April, Miami will be implementing a compositing program for food and yard waste late next year.
The Sustainability Committee consisting of students, faculty and staff analyzed Miami’s campus and came up with a list of guidelines and suggestions to make Miami a more sustainable campus, according to Miami’s Sustainability Coordinator David Prytherch. The Sustainability Commitments and Goals report includes goals towards a sustainable campus involving Miami’s transportation, landscape, investments and energy.
In order to meet the committee’s goal to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills by 2017, students generated the idea for an on-campus composting program, according to Prytherch.
According to Prytherch, a significant portion of what Miami sends to the landfill is biodegradable and can be composted. With a composting program, this biodegradable waste would be separated from waste going to the landfills, and then mixed together where microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi speed up the decomposition process, eventually resulting in useable soil.
According to General Assembly representative Kendall Dienno, Miami already uses a lot of compostable materials in some dining locations, including biodegradable spoons in King Café, cups at 1809, and all of the paper napkins provided around campus.
“Ideally I would like to see these compostable materials used in all dining locations across campus, but I think this composting program is a great way to begin improving the campus’ sustainability with what we are already using,” Dienno said.
Prytherch said he agrees more biodegradable material on campus would be ideal.
“The more compostable material we use the better,” Prytherch said.
Even though Miami offers some biodegradable materials, since Miami does not currently compost, those materials are put into landfills where they do not decompose as quickly as if they were composted, according to Prytherch.
According to Prytherch, the Sustainability Committee has not made a decision on where it will compost yet, but its goal is to begin phasing implementation of the program by December 2013. The changes will not be seen all at once, but will gradually be introduced to the campus, Prytherch said.
The program will include composting of food waste, such as banana peels, egg shells and apple peels, mainly coming from the Demske Culinary Support Center, as well as yard waste, including grass clippings and leaves, according to Prytherch.
“I don’t think it will affect students too much, in the future they may see another option to compost instead of just recycling or throwing away their trash, but most of the composting will happen before the food reaches students’ plates,” Prytherch said.
However, according to Dienno, efforts are also being taken to see if student participation in composting can be expected in the future. This January, a pilot program will be introduced at King Café where an additional bin will be offered for students to compost their compostable waste, according to Dienno. This pilot program aims to see if students would be willing to compost their waste and if it would be worth it to offer composting bins around campus, said Dienno.
Junior Hillary Stradtman said she thinks the composting program is a good idea but is uncertain about how effective it will be if students are eventually asked to be involved.
“I think that a composting program at Miami is an awesome idea, however I’m a little skeptical about how much student participation it will receive,” Stradtman said. “Based on the number of plastic water bottles you can find in trash cans, I think that students may not be receptive to more labor-intensive opportunities to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.”