Composting at the University of Michigan
The University of Michigan has made a serious commitment to the environment with its sustainability program known as Planet Blue.
The University, located in Ann Arbor, leads the way in reducing food waste from their dining facilities and campus with projects such as the Zero Waste Picnic, The Maize and Blue Cupboard, and EarthFest. These projects act to strengthen five broad sustainability goals: food, waste, water, energy, and culture. In particular, the Michigan campus dining has done an excellent job of eliminating food waste.
The program tracks and records sustainability efforts via their Planet Blue website, noting several ambitious goals to be completed by 2025. One of these goals is to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill by 40%.
The dining facilities have reached a 30% diversion from landfill by utilizing recycling and composting. While the school as a whole is currently at 6% reduction (reductions in waste have been offset by growth in the size of the campus), both those working in dining and sustainability are collaborating with the rest of campus to educate and increase access to composting.
Composting at Michigan
The program began by offering and educating a single incoming freshmen resident hall to composting, and now reaches all incoming freshmen.
By utilizing planet blue student leaders to help educate other students, people are encouraged to think about their choices when disposing trash. By helping to develop habits early and often, students are encouraging staff and faculty to join the movement.
A group from the University of Michigan’s Office of Sustainability works to standardize trash bins by accommodating a recycle bin, and compost bin throughout campus. The waste bins have numerous visuals, making it even easier for people to understand what they have in their hand and what bin it belongs in.
It is very important to educate the student on what types of waste can be placed in the compost bins. For example, if the produce sticker on the banana peel is not fully compostable, it can contaminate the process of breaking down the the waste into humus. UM’s compost is sent to WeCare organics, which uses the windrow method to compost.
Using PURE Labels to support composting efforts
Since partnering with PURE Labels for their compostable food service packaging, U of Michigan dining is reducing contamination caused by regular food labels that do not have a compostable adhesive.
With the ongoing threat of climate change, teaching students to make eco-friendly choices is more important than ever, and paying attention to the small details such as compostable adhesive labels is crucial. University of Michigan is a trailblazer in rolling out zero waste programs. We are excited to support other organizations that strive to provide future generations with a healthy planet through campus composting.