Reduce, Reuse, Recycle … Compost! Law School Launches Pilot Composting Program

Did you know that Washington University composted 160,000 pounds of food waste between August 2010 and March of 2012? Now, thanks to a pilot program being coordinated by the Energy and Environmental Law Society, those numbers will climb even higher. Supplementing ongoing recycling efforts, composting has now come to the law school.

The best news? Composting is a quick and easy way to save landfill space and help the environment. Specially-labeled bins and signage in the Crowder Courtyard (AB Hall, No. 310) indicate where to dispose of items that are compostable, recyclable, or for the landfill. Student volunteers in green shirts will be available during lunchtime to help with proper waste sorting.

“I am very excited about this project,” says law student Chris Donahoe, a member of the Energy and Environmental Law Society. “Composting our food waste is the next step in our efforts to promote sustainability and to reduce the university’s impact on the planet. The pilot program will allow us to better gauge the costs and savings of this innovative program, so that we can get a clearer idea of how to budget for composting long term.”

The new composting pilot program is part of an overall sustainability effort to greatly reduce waste at the law school. Compostable materials include food, napkins, paper towels, sugar packets, tea bags, liquids, coffee grounds, ice, compost-friendly utensils and café serviceware, to-go ware, straws, wooden stir sticks, and even chopsticks.

In addition to the compost compactors in the courtyard, clearly marked receptacles for composting paper towel waste from hand washing also are being placed in restrooms throughout Anheuser-Busch Hall.

The law school is one of only three campus locations taking part in the six-month pilot program for post-consumer and paper towel composting. Funded by a grant from the university’s Student Sustainability Fund, the law school’s program is being coordinated by the Energy and Environmental Law Society in conjunction with the Law Cafe, law school’s Facility Department, the university’s Office of Sustainability, and the university’s Department of Facilities Planning and Managment.

Post-consumer compost collection will also be available at the Brown School of Social Work,the Danforth University Center, and at the Bear’s Den in South 40 House.

For the pilot, two portable compactors for compost and two portable compactors for recycling will be strategically placed in the Crowder Courtyard. While compactors for recycling are already in use on campus at Whispers Café, the DUC Café, and the Village, the law school is the first site to use compactors to collect compost. Compactors reduce the frequency that the bins need to be serviced and reduce the number of bin liners consumed.

All of the collected compost will be handled by St. Louis Composting, which brings the material to its facility in Belleville. The finished compost is then sold to local landscaping companies for use as a soil additive and fertilizer, with some of it even returning to Washington University.

Visit here for more information on the composting pilot and other sustainability initiatives.