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Miami aims toward zero waste: Composting comes to Oxford campus

02/07/2013

Part one of a series about sustainability pilot programs this month focusing on recycling and composting
Written by Susan Meikle with contributions from Yvette Kline and David Prytherch

New bins at King Cafe are part of composting pilot program this month at King Cafe: Everything purchased at King Cafe, including the serve ware, can be composted in the black bins during February. (except beverage bottles, cans, which go in the blue recycle bin)
New bins at King Cafe are part of composting pilot program this month at King Cafe: Everything purchased at King Cafe, including the serve ware, can be composted in the black bins during February. (except beverage bottles, cans, which go in the blue recycle bin)
Three thousand cups of coffee are sold on a typical day at King Café. What happens to all the coffee grounds generated? Until now, they went to the landfill, along with most of Miami's biodegradable solid waste. This month, they will be composted, along with other food waste, coffee cups and serve ware from King Café. The café is the site of a major composting pilot project - one of several on campus - to evaluate how well different best practices for solid waste reduction can be scaled up and applied campuswide.

If you buy it at King, compost it at King

During the month of February, King Café is offering compostable cups, lids, straws, utensils and salad containers. Even the cellophane bag containing the compostable utensils and napkin is compostable.
Customers can deposit all café service ware for composting in new black compost bins. (Recyclable bottles and cans should be placed in blue recycling bins.)

• Only service ware from King Café should be composted, to prevent contamination. Dining services worked with Compost Cincy to verify the compostability of the specially purchased service ware. With the exception of beverage bottles and cans (which are recyclable) everything purchased at King Cafe during February can be disposed of in one of its new black compost containers.
• Cups and lids purchased elsewhere are not necessarily compostable and should still be disposed of in the regular trash.

"Recycling should never be less convenient than throwing trash away" (Sustainability Commitments and Goals: “A Campus Culture of Sustainability”)

Miami’s Sustainability Commitments and Goals, established in 2011, have set a target of diverting a majority of our waste from the landfill by 2017 and to begin recycling our organic wastes before 2014, according to David Prytherch, sustainability coordinator and co-chair of the sustainability committee.

A “Solid Waste Lean Team” has worked since last summer on a plan to meet these goals without increasing costs - a collaborative effort coordinated by Yvette Kline, director of sustainability and energy conservation and including physical facilities; housing, dining, recreation, and business services; the office of residence life; and intercollegiate athletics.

This group has not only looked both ‘down’ the waste stream to improve diversion rates, but also ‘upstream’ on ways to reduce waste generation, said Prytherch.

The Lean Team's process will be completed in April, and implementation will begin this summer. To test its recommendations, a series of pilot projects are being conducted this month.

"Pilots give us the chance to make adjustments to equipment, training and other processes before investing in across-the-board changes,” said Kline.

Along with the composting pilot at King Café, other pilot projects this month include a pizza box composting pilot at various residence halls; single stream recycling pilots at King Library, Scott Hall and Cole Service Building; and reusable coffee mugs at Bell Tower and Dividend$.

“Lean team efforts are bringing us closer to a future of reduced waste, and the introduction of compost is a huge step,” Prytherch said.

Learn more about Miami's efforts towards zero waste at Miami 0 Waste.

Organic compactor at Demske Culinary Support Center to divert five tons of food scraps from landfill weekly

The new organic compactor at Demske Culinary Support Center replaced the trash compactor. It will collect up to an estimated five tons of organic waste per week, which will be transported to Compost Cincy.
The new organic compactor at Demske Culinary Support Center replaced the trash compactor. It will collect up to an estimated five tons of organic waste per week, which will be transported to Compost Cincy.
A permanent change in the collection of pre-consumer organic waste at Miami will significantly reduce the amount of waste that goes to the landfill. The trash compactor at the Demske Culinary Support Center (DCSC) was replaced Feb. 1 with a sealed 30-yard organic compactor that will be used to collect up to an estimated five tons of organic waste per week.

Most of the waste will consist of pre-consumer food scrap from the food preparation operations that take place at the DCSC. Other organic waste will come from the post-consumer composting pilots at King Café and the pizza box pilot program.

Organic waste from the compactor will be transported to Compost Cincy, a new commercial composting facility in Cincinnati - the country’s only compost facility within city limits.

Learn more about composting from organic grower Craig Harkrider, owner of the 124-acre Stoney Hedgerow Farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) at the Composting Brown Bag Lunch and Learn at noon, Feb. 8 and Feb. 22, in 137 Cole Service Building.

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