Organic Material Soon Separated from Trash
As part of our commitment to sustainability and carbon neutrality, the university has a goal of sending zero waste to landfills and incinerators. In 2012, AU earned first place in RecycleMania, demonstrating national leadership by achieving a higher waste diversion rate than more than 600 competing colleges and universities. Campus-wide organics collection will keep us on our road to zero waste.
What changes will be made?
In January 2013, American University will be implementing campus-wide collection of organic waste. This winter, Facilities Management will place a new bin next to your existing landfill (trash) and recycling bins, somewhere in or near your kitchen. The new bin:
- Is for collecting organic material for composting
- Will have a colorful sign illustrating what goes in it
- Will be emptied by Housekeeping on a daily basis to prevent odor and pests.
What is “Organic Material”?
Anything that was once alive (and which isn’t already being recycled), e.g. leftover food, paper sandwich wrappers and bags covered in food, greasy pizza boxes, and anything made from “compostable” or “biodegradable” material, such as plant-based cups and containers.
What happens to the organic waste?
The organic waste that will be collected is currently being sent to a landfill. To further reduce our waste footprint, this waste will be separated and sent to a composting facility off-campus to become compost. This is why we refer to this as organic waste collection, as the actualLy breakdown of organic waste happens elsewhere and not in these bins. Compost produced from organic waste is rich in nutrients and a great natural soil amendment. Compost is commonly used in farms, gardens, and lanDscaping.
Will You Be Piloting?
Collecting organic material isn't new – we collect it now but it is mixed in with your trash. Separating organic material from trash requires a small change in behavior and a change in housekeeping, so before we roll this out campus-wide, we will be piloting with a selected number of offices participating in the Green Office (GO!) program.
Will the bin smell?
Not any more than your existing bins. Organic material is already collected in your trash bins. Now this material will have a separate bin and will be collected every day. For any questions or concerns, please contact email@example.com or 202-885-2351.
Does AU already separate organic material?
Yes. Food waste from the Terrace Dining Room and other campus eateries, as well as yard waste from campus grounds, are collected separately and sent to a compost facility. We collected 591 tons in 2011 alone! Implementing organics collection campus-wide will reduce the amount of campus waste sent to landfill significantly.