Preventing kitchen scraps from entering the traditional waste stream keeps a valuable resource out of the landfill and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Food scraps and coffee grounds can be added to other materials like yard waste to make a natural fertilizer, compost, that is good for gardening, flowers, and lawns.
At UWM, we manage two separate streams for compost.
The Office of Sustainability’s Compost assistants play an important role in pre-cooked food waste here on UWM’s campus. The Sandburg Café produces about 3,000 pounds of pre-consumer waste per week. Compost Assistants and volunteers work to haul these kitchen scraps to the campus hoop house, where the magic (aerobic composting) happens. After a few months of careful monitoring and microbe-assisted magic, those unwanted food scraps become a nutrient-loaded fertilizer that the Office of Sustainability uses on garden plots found all around campus.
Other forms of food waste like meat, dairy, or after-meal scraps are sent to our off-campus partner, Compost Crusader. Post-consumer compost is collected from the Sandburg Cafe dining hall and from UWM’s 20/20 Catering. Compost Crusader has an industrial, anaerobic composting operation which collects food scraps from many residential and commercial donors in Milwaukee. You can learn more about Compost Crusader on their website.
The OoS mission with composting is to implement a more sustainable way of handling UWM’s waste. We keep kitchen scraps from entering the traditional waste stream landfill, turn that waste into valuable fertilizer, and help reduce UWM’s greenhouse gas emissions.
You can get involved with this process, too! Donate your food scraps (fruits, veggies, coffee grounds, egg shells) to the hoop house. Collection bins are located on either side of the hoop house and are clearly marked.
Sandburg Café Fall 2019 Updates
Sandburg Café can no longer compost in the dining hall. Keep reading to find out why and how you can still compost at UWM!
Is This the End of Composting at UWM?
Absolutely NOT! Restaurant Operations will continue composting food in its kitchen operations. The kitchen diverts over 70 tons of food waste from the landfill each year!
Did you know that UWM has an on-site composting operation? Students in the Hoop House turn over 17 tons of Sandburg food waste into soil that is used in UWM vegetable gardens.
Can’t Sandburg Café Just Accept Food Waste in the Compost Bins?
The short answer is yes. The reason Sandburg Café doesn’t do this is for 2 main reasons:
- It’s a big change to make mid-semester. UWM staff need time to rethink the program and re-educate residents on the new composting guidelines. That planning is currently underway. Stay tuned!
- The Sandburg Café uses green biodegradable bags to collect compost from the café. The bags make it efficient and sanitary to get the compost out of the building to the compost dumpster. Those bags are no longer accepted by our vendor. Collecting compost without a bag creates a challenge for the custodial team that could put their safety at risk and would require extra staff time to clean the compost bins daily.
What If I Still Want to Compost?
We have an option for you! You can compost pre-cooked food waste on campus with the UWM Hoop House. The below items are accepted:
- Uncooked fruits and veggies.
- Coffee grounds and tea leaves.
- Egg shells.
Location: The Hoop House is located outside of the East Tower of Sandburg Hall at the Sandburg Gardens. Look for the plastic covered structure east of the garden area. Click here to see the map.
Drop Off Bin: Please use the green and white bin outside of the Hoop House doors to discard the accepted compost items. Do not use bags or leave your container behind.
What should I collect my compost in?: Any food-grade container can be used to collect compost. Have an old bucket, tupper-ware container, or glass jar? Use it! Using a container with a lid and regularly disposing of at the Hoop House is ideal to avoid smells and fruit flies in rooms. Keep it in your refrigerator or freezer whenever possible to avoid fruit flies.
Why Can I No Longer Compost in Sandburg Café?
Sandburg Café no longer composts in the dining hall for 3 main reasons:
- Non-compostable material contaminating the compost bin. This material harms the overall composting process.
- Compostable disposables are no longer accepted by vendor.
- Sandburg Café uses compostable cups, plates, and bowls. The composition of these materials is causing operational and safety challenges in the composting process.
- Green biodegradable bags used for collecting the compost are no longer accepted by the vendor.
- Like the compostable cups, plates, and bowls, the biodegradable bags are causing operational and safety challenges in the composting process.