From March 25 to March 29, composting bins will be placed outside the Aldrich café as part of a pilot program to support the effort to reduce waste at HBS.
Food waste is currently composted in Spangler dining hall when leftover food placed on the conveyor belt is sorted by the restaurant staff and composted in a nearby facility.
However, to-go containers (soup bowls, beverages cups, paper clam shell) and paper napkins, designed specifically to be compostable and recyclable, do not end up in compost because of a lack of composting bins in the Grille, Aldrich or the dorms.
The pilot program is designed to take advantage of the compostable to-go containers and minimize the food waste thrown in the landfill.
What is compost?
Compost is the product of a biological process during which naturally occurring aerobic (oxygen-requiring) microorganisms break down organic materials such as food waste into humus, a nutrient-rich material that can be used to improve soil quality.
Composting reduces methane emissions generated by organics degrading in landfills without air (methane is a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than CO2). Composting then provides nutrients for soil and helps it retain moisture, reducing soil pollution and the need for pesticides. It also helps water management by improving soil absorption and soil filtration. Composting also offers several economic benefits. It reduces the need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides, and reduces landfill waste, which can be very expensive. (The average landfill tipping fee can be as high as $105.40 per ton in Massachusetts, the most expensive state to dump trash). Composting provides a cost-effective alternative to conventional methods of cleaning contaminated soil.
Americans generated 31.8 million tons of food waste in 2008 (12% of the total waste stream) and only 2.5% was composted. The environmental effect of not trashing this mass would be equivalent to removing 5.8 million cars from the road. At Harvard, waste audits have determined that university-wide, compostable food scraps and soiled paper represents 25% of our total waste. There is a huge opportunity to make a difference.
So what can you do?
- If you eat in Spangler dining hall, don’t forget to use china to reduce waste and make sure to place your leftover food on the conveyor belt.
- If you eat in the Spangler lounge, bring compostable containers back to the conveyor belt. It’s only a few steps away and it does make a difference.
- If you eat in Aldrich, make sure to bring your container and leftover food to the composting bin that will be placed next to the Aldrich Café between March 25 and March 29.