Composting Program

When people make the decision to recycle, more often than not, they forget about recycling nutrients. Composting is in its most basic sense the recycling of nutrients. According to the EPA, 26% of the municipal waste stream is made of compostable materials (http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/rrr/composting/index.htm). In landfills, this releases methane gas, but when allowed to break down aerobically in a compost pile, it becomes valuable nutrients. In 2005, UW-La Crosse started composting, but the program only lasted the year. In 2009, campus started composting again, both pre-consumer scrap from the kitchens, and post consumer from the main dining hall. On average 1,000 pounds are collected weekly during the academic year (September - May).

In 2010, UW-L  decided to build on that success by expanding compost collection to include the second student dining area, an apartment-style residence hall, and by purchasing an industrial-scale vermicomposting system.

The  vermicomposting system is a natural method for speeding up the breakdown of vegetable scraps through use of  worms! (Red wigglers, to be exact.) These worms drastically reduce the time  required to create usable compost, and this system requires no turning, unlike traditional compost piles. These factors allow us to compost  larger quantities of food scrap on a daily basis. Through its use, we plan to divert at least 30,000 pounds of organic material from our waste stream every year. To find out more about acceptable materials for compost collection, or how to help out the student-powered composting crew, click here.