Published: Nov. 8, 2021 By

Thanks to the great work from CU Facilities Management, you can now compost your food scraps, paper towels, compostable plastics (#7 PLA), and compostable serving ware in EVERY academic/administrative building across campus!  Just look in your closest rest rooms for a compost collection bin!

This is very exciting as it culminates a multi year process to provide equal access to compost collections at CU!  This operational improvement will put CU one step closer to reaching its zero waste goals

Did you know your composting efforts can help support eco-social justice, along with helping to reduce climate change?  Read on to find out more... 

Compost Collection Across Campus

Rest Rooms

  • Every rest room in every building has a compost bin
  • Look for the green bin and/or the signs that say “Compost”
  • Why in the rest rooms?
    • Rest room bins are already collected daily
    • They already have extra ventilation
    • Paper towels are compostable, so it’s an easy way to keep them out of the landfill
    • This all translates to a low cost, maximum access collection strategy 
  • If you find of a restroom we missed, please contact Facilities Management here

Food Service Areas

  • Public compost collection bins exist in many areas you can eat food
  • Many cafes on campus have access to public compost bins
    • Laughing Goat in Norlin Library
    • Peoke Sip House in ATLAS
    • SEEC Café in the SEEC building
    • Gravity Café in the Engineering building
    • Starbucks in the UMC 
  • Dining centers on campus offer public compost bins
    • Alfred Packer Grill in the UMC
    • Center for Community (C4C) composts its food scraps from the tray return
    • Village Commons in Williams Village composts in food scraps from the tray return

Zero Waste Events

  • Football home games have compost bins throughout Folsom Field stadium, along with tailgate lots such as Franklin Field
  • Basketball home games in the CU Events Center provide access to compost bins
  • All home football and basketball games are Zero Waste Events where food is served on compostable products.  There are no public trash bins since you can compost and recycled all items served!
  • Concerts at Folsom Field and the CU Events Center are also Zero Waste Events
  • Picnics and other smaller events across campus will usually have compost bin acess for all participants

Reduce Climate Change Through Composting

  • Food waste and compostable items in a landfill creates Methane
    • Since there is no air inside a landfill, it creates an anerobic decomposition process
    • This produces methane instead of naturally breaking down and producing carbon dioxide
  • Methane is more than 25 times more potent as a green house gas when compared to carbon dioxide
  • Thus, if you keep compostable items out of the landfill through composting, you prevent Methane from entering the atmosphere
  • Less Methane = Less green house gasses = Less global warming = Less climate change

Composting as a form of Eco-Social Justice

Did you know that landfills are often located in low income and BIPOC communities?

  • Living so close to a landfill they are subject to awful smells, trucks driving through creating noise and air pollution, and toxic leachate runoff in their water systems
  • These are communities that cannot easily move to escape these daily issues

By composting, you reduce the need for landfill use and for new landfills to be built!

  • Less trucks driving through these communities
  • Less materials in the landfill to produce any local air/water pollution
  • Reducing the need for new landfills to be built in other communities 

CU is excited to provide greater access for compost collections to all communities across campus.  This allows for more people to keep their waste from the landfill and lead to less landfills to be created on someone’s back yard.

Where does the compost from CU Boulder end up?

The compostable items collected from the CU Boulder campus goes to an industrial compost facility called A1 Organics.

Here these items are:

  • Mixed together to create the correct ratios of carbon to nitrogen (dry to wet materials)
  • Piled in large wind rows to naturally generate heat
  • Turned regularly to provide exposure to air (aerobic decomposition)
  • Moisture added as necessary
  • Over time, usually 1-3 months, the materials turn into soil to be used for gardens and landscape

What Can You Compost?

Rest room compost bins are there to collect far more than just paper towels... bring your food scraps and compostable serving ware to rest room compost bins!

Common compostable items include:

  • All food scraps, including dairy, meat and bones
  • Paper towels, napkins, tissues
  • Compostable serving ware, including paper clamshells and paper plates (no plastic lining)
  • Compostable plastics (#7 PLA labeled “compostable”)

A more detailed list can be found here.

Items you CANNOT Compost

In order for compost to be turned into nutrient rich soil for growing plants, we need to keep it free of contamination. 

Keep these items out of your compost bin:

  • Plastic bags
  • Candy wrappers, chip bags, condiment packets
  • Any plastic utensils, paper cups, or serving ware that are NOT labeled as “compostable”
  • All recyclable containers
  • Anything on this list of Landfill Items

EcoCycle provides a great list and reasons why to keep your compost clean here.