Emerson institutes composting program

Allison Teixeira
September 09, 2011

Emerson rolled out a new waste composting program in the Little Building dining hall last week as part of an ongoing effort to increase the campus’s sustainability. Dining hall guests can now compost uneaten food and napkins so that those items can be converted into soil, energy, or food for livestock, rather than being sent to a landfill.

Emerson’s Business Services and Facilities Management departments spearheaded the program, along with Aramark, the College’s food services provider. They have partnered with Planet Police, a compost hauling service company that assists food producers with green initiatives.

student composting

Student Sarah Balducci utilized Emerson's new composting containers in the Little Building Dining Hall. Composting programs can reduce waste and save money.

“We’ve been incrementally improving sustainability at Emerson for years and [the composting program] is our latest effort,” said Director of Facilities Management Neal Lespasio. “Sustainability is a work in progress that is always evolving.”

Containers for the compostable items are located across from the dish return area in the dining hall so that diners can easily access them to deposit their food waste. Aramark staff empty those containers into larger ones located in Allen’s Alley, where the waste is picked up by Planet Police twice a week. The company delivers the waste to one of three kinds of processing facilities: organic farms, livestock farms, or anaerobic and aerobic digesters (mechanical composting systems that speed the decomposition process).

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 26 percent of the country’s municipal solid waste stream. Composting can turn that waste into something useful and environmentally beneficial.

If the pilot program at the dining hall is successful, Emerson’s composting program will expand to other areas of campus, said Assistant Director of Business Services Thomas Doyle.

Numerous respondents to a survey conducted by the President’s Committee on Sustainability last spring indicated strong interest in adding composting to the dining hall.

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