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.

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.  UWM composts, on average, 200,000lbs per year.

At UWM, we manage two separate streams for compost.

On Site-

The Sandburg Café collects pre-consumer food scraps. Office of Sustainability Garden & Compost Assistants, along with volunteers, haul the kitchen scraps to the campus hoop house, where the aerobic composting happens. After a few months of careful monitoring and microbe-assistance, those food scraps become a nutrient-loaded fertilizer that the Office of Sustainability uses on garden plots found all around campus.

Panther Pails!

Collect food scraps at home and bring them to the UWM composting operation.  Grab a clean bucket at the Sandburg Garden Hoop House.  Register here!
Contact Nina Hartwig for more information!


    • Coffee grounds (no filter)
    • Egg shells
    • Fresh fruit scraps (e.g. apple cores, orange peels, strawberry tops)
    • Fresh vegetable scraps (e.g. carrots peels, broccoli stems)

Taken Off Site-

Other forms of food waste like meat, dairy, or after-meal scraps are hauled by 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 takes the food scraps has an industrial composter, Blue Ribbon Organics.

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.

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.

Why Can I No Longer Compost in Sandburg Café?
Sandburg Café no longer composts in the dining hall for 3 main reasons:

  1. Contamination:
    • Non-compostable material contaminating the compost bin. This material harms the overall composting process.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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