Composting Returns to UW-L

After a several year hiatus, composting has finally returned to UW-La Crosse. A composting program was originally launched at UW-L by the Environmental Council and Campus Progressives in 2002 and ran until 2006 when the program was stopped due to a lack of volunteers to run the project. At that time River City Ready Mix in La Crosse donated the concrete for the base of the bins. In 2008, with help from University Centers and the hiring of a four student Composting Crew the composting program is once again alive and well.

Composting is a natural process of recycling materials such as plant waste into a rich soil; compost. The composting process is carried out by microorganisms. In the case of UW-L’s composting program, pre-consumer food waste from Chartwell’s kitchens (such as the waste from the preparation of fruit and vegetables) is layered with partially composted horse manure in a composting bin located near the campus Physical Plant. Only plant-based food preparation waste is composted at UW-L. It is more difficult to include post-consumer food waste in the composting bin and this is not being done at this time.

Every Monday through Friday, The Composting Crew delivers the pre-consumer food waste to the composting site. By mixing and aerating the compostable materials, the decomposition process can be accelerated so that in the period of a few months, rich compost will result. This fall, the composting project received a donation of some partially composted horse manure and hay from Jean Bonde, an Academic Department Associate in the Marketing Department and a member of the Joint Committee on Environmental Sustainability. These materials are added to the composting bin to improve the decomposition process.

Once the compost is ready, it will be used by UW-L grounds keepers during landscape maintenance.

For more information about the UW-L composting program, please contact Jeremy Gragert, University Centers Sustainability Coordinator, at 608.785.8902

Composting photo

An overview of the composting bin near the UW-L  baseball field. The Composting Crew is hard at work.

Composting photo

Pre-consumer food waste is added to the compost bin.


Horse manure and composting material are stirred to promote aeration and better decomposition.

Composting photo

Jean Bonde loads a pickup with partially composted horse manure before transporting it to UW-L's composting facility.

Composting photo

Volunteers unload the horse manure beside the composting bin. The horse manure will promote better decomposition especially during the winter months.