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Composting to come to the campus center

Published: Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Updated: Tuesday, April 7, 2009 11:04


Tien Tien/Tufts Daily

Tufts Recycles! hopes that students will soon choose the composting bin over trash cans in the campus center.

Tufts Recycles! last week started a month-long composting program in the Mayer Campus Center aimed at educating students and disposing of the building's food waste in an environmentally friendly manner.

The group is planning on opening the composting phase of the program this week, and will man a bin lined with biodegradable bags stationed in the campus center. Last week, members focused on education about composting and what waste can be composted.

Plans call for volunteers to staff the bin from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday for the next three weeks.

Composting is the transition of organic material into compost, a soil-like material. Microorganisms and earthworms catalyze the process, a more environmentally friendly manner for disposing of most food and yard waste. Most of this organic waste normally goes into landfills and produces methane gas, a pollutant.

Half a ton of food is composted each day on the Medford/Somerville campus, according to Tufts Recycles!. Dewick-MacPhie and Carmichael Dining Halls already compost their food waste.

Composting at the campus center has proven logistically difficult, however, because students throw their waste into trashcans rather than placing it on a tray cleaned by workers like they do in the dining halls.

The composting company Save That Stuff, which currently serves part of Tufts' campus, will enlarge their operations to include the campus center. Dining Services will pay for the program.

This composting project stemmed from a large amount of student interest, according to Sophomore Erin Madara, an intern at Tufts Recycles!.

"There [have] been a lot of students voicing their opinions," she said. "Last semester, Tufts Recycles! … offered a survey, [through] which an overwhelming number of students asked about composting."

The future of the program after the end of the three weeks remains up in the air, though, and a decision to continue it will be based on the level of student interest seen.

Should the project go well, Tufts Recycles! hopes to make composting a full-time service at the campus center.

"Dining Services is looking into compostable plates and serving-bowls, too," Madara said.

Madara has spearheaded the plan that aims to inform students about composting and teach them to remove organic waste from landfills. Working with Dawn Quirk, the Facilities Department's recycling coordinator, Madara said she recognized the need to start off on small scale.

"We are just going to start out with food scraps, even though some napkins and cups are compostable," she said.

Tufts Recycles! plans for the entire program to end on Earth Day on April 22.


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