Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

Compost Champs

If you read our last waste-related post from the summer, you may be hungry for updates on how SPU is doing this school year. As we will be conducting our next waste audit come May 2017, we thought we’d give a mid-year update, specifically regarding compost.

In its second year, SPU’s compost program is already diverting more food and yard waste as compared to last school year. Here’s a graph detailing our campus compost by tons for the last year and a half:


As shown in blue, this fiscal year (July 2016 – June 2017) our campus has consistently composted more than last fiscal year (July 2015 – June 2016) as shown in orange. More biodegradables diverted from landfills…that’s awesome!

Here’s one more graphic representation showing the amount of compost picked up per site for the first half of the last two fiscal years:compostbysite

Note that many of these sites are the emptying location for multiple campus buildings. For instance, the Beegle pick-up site includes the compost for Alexander, McKinley, Moyer, and Peterson Halls, as well as Kingswood House and Crawford Music Building. The Gwinn site (clearly SPU’s biggest compost producer) also contains compost from the Library, Weter and Demaray Halls, and University Services. So far this school year, various campus sites are composting about the same, or a little bit more, than last school year.

Overall, we are excited about our progress. This is great news for a few reasons:

First, we are successfully meeting the City’s 2015 ordinance that requires residents and businesses to dispose of yard and food waste in the compost.

Second, beyond diverting food and yard waste from landfills (and contributing the biodegraded material to city parks and gardens), we are also reducing greenhouse gas emissions: 57 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTeCO2) for the 194 tons of compost diverted for FY1516. This calculation is found by multiplying 0.14 MTeCO2 per wet short ton of organic inputs composted and applied to agricultural soil (U.S. EPA, 2015, 5-1) by 2.1 to convert from MTCE per wet ton of organic waste to MTCE per wet ton of compost (University of New Hampshire Campus Carbon Calculator, v.8, References tab, “EF Offset”).

Third, as a Christian university and as global citizens, we are living into our vocational calling to steward our resources wisely by giving back to the earth that resiliently sustains and gives to us.

We hope to continue these trends and will carry on our efforts to educate composters and celebrate our campus waste diversion efforts.

Still interested in how you can be a compost champion? Check out this list of what items are compostable, distributed by our compost hauler, Cedar Groves. Additionally, this series of videos produced by our friends at Seattle Public Utilities is pretty great, especially this one on tea bags…the classic compost conundrum!

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