If compost was a song, right now it would be “I Ain’t Broke, but I’m Badly Bent,” by Martha Ellis, written in 1953.  With some grit and effort, we can all sing along to “We Are the Champions!”  

Here are a few facts to consider:  

  • From auditing campus landfill dumpsters, we have discovered that over 30% of what is currently being thrown into those bins belongs in the compost bin. And what is being thrown into compost bins includes contamination to the extent that our loads are being rejected at the transfer station with heavy fines being imposed.
  • To avoid fines, for example, in September we sent 19.93 tons collected from compost bins directly to the landfill because our drivers determined the loads would be rejected. Only 5.33 tons of compost were taken to the transfer station and accepted as compost feedstock and all of the 5.33 tons were hand-sorted to remove contaminants.
  • It is currently impossible to hand-sort all of the on-campus compost feedstock.
  • 30% of the 164.6 tons of landfill material from CU, delivered to the transfer station in September, is 49.38 tons. That’s a minimum estimated amount of divertible material that should have been properly composted. Therefore, a very conservative estimate of the compostable material that was landfilled from CU in Sept. 2022 is 59.31 tons.
  • Much of the compostable material that is anaerobically landfilled is converted into methane.
  • The Environmental Defense Fund reports, “Methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it reaches the atmosphere.”

Clearly, we have a challenge. We also have an opportunity! First, we all need to know what is and what isn’t compostable. It’s quite simple, really—if it was alive in your lifetime and would decompose quickly, then it’s compostable (that eliminates the plastic made from dinosaurs and plant life way before our time.) If it’s an item made entirely from compostable material, then it has to have the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) logo, or the word ‘COMPOSTABLE’ written somewhere on it, or the number 7 and the letters ‘PLA’ stamped on it. The Environmental Center’s Guide goes into detail.

As we all get into the habit of composting correctly, our Facilities Management teams will identify the buildings where clean streams of compost can be properly sent as feedstock that won’t be rejected.  We can solve this issue by working together toward our common goals of reducing our carbon footprint and being more sustainable. Go Buffs!