Update on composting pilot project at King Cafe

Now it’s in third week, the composting pilot project put in place at King Library by Miami’ Green Team in coordination with Physical Facilities, is taking and generating a lot of interest among students.

Bins have put in Ki-1ng Café in groups of three and around major walking areas  in King, with the bins color coded into landfill, recycling, and composting specific receptacles. Large signs have been set up next to each bin illustrating exactly what you can and cannot put in each category (an example of which you can find along with this post).

The grey bins are for any items that absolutely cannot be composted or recycled- items such as Styrofoam, heavily soiled or food stained dishes, wrappers and the like. Blue bins are for all typically recycled materials, that will now sent to Miami’s recycling facility in one single stream. These items include plastic bottles and bags, aluminum cans, cardboard and paper, and glass bottles.

The new black bins are for all compostable items—most food scraps and all utensils, cups, and dishware being used at the Café. This great addition to Miami’s waste disposal system allows a large portion of scraps and materials that would normally be disposed in grey trashcans and  sent to the landfill, where they would take up space and pollute the soil, to be transformed and reused for the good of Oxford’s environment and the community.

The new cups, utensils, and dishes have generated much interest from both students and other dining facilities, as all the “plastic” silverware, cups, and dishes are actually made from plant-based polymers rather than artificial chemicals, allowing them to break down naturally when exposed to biological processes and natural microbes.

The lids for Starbucks coffee cups are also made from this plant-based plastic, and the cups themselves are a non-laminated cardboard. Not only they disposable, but also the bags themselves used in the compost bins are biodegradable! All of the items put into the compost compactor at the CSC are meant to naturally breakdown into CO2, water, and organic compounds while leaving no toxic residue behind.

The pilot project has generally been well received by students, thanks in large part to the efforts of the Green Team and Green Oxford in creating easy to follow instructions for disposal and maintaining a presence at a daily booth set up in the Café to educate and draw awareness to the new addition. Some concerns still remain as to the awareness of students to properly follow directions and guidelines of what you can and cannot compost. While a large amount of compost has already been generated by the project, problems have come up with non-compostable materials appearing in the bins, which has caused some trouble for the process . Miami has taken the initiative to transport the waste in its compactor to a professional composting company, however, when foreign objects are found in the compost, Miami is fined $500 for the risk.  It is therefore extremely important that students follow the signage and dispose of their utensils properly and in the correct bins!

The Green Team and Green Oxford urge students to please be conscientious and supportive in this effort, as the relative success of the pilot project in King will be the deciding factor as to whether or not Miami will then implement composting in all camp-2us dining halls, and make great use of the mass amount of food scrap generated by Miami students each day.

Considering that, according to the latest statistics form Miami’s Physical Facilities, as much as 5 tons of food scrap is generated each week by students. Do your part, and take the initiative to keep compostable materials out of landfills, and instead turning that otherwise unused waste into natural, composted, Earth-friendly soil for the Oxford community.

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