Loyola University Chicago

Institute of Environmental Sustainability

Composting

About the Composting Initiative

In August 2012, composting services were introduced to collect scraps from food preparation and plate-waste in Simpson Dining Hall. That year, over 62 tons of food scraps were sent to a commercial compost facility. In the 2013 academic year, the program expanded to De Nobili Dining Hall and Engrained Café in the Institute of Environmental Sustainability. Loyola continues to identify areas to expand the Campus Compost Initiative.

In 2013, the Campus Compost Collective (aka Bucket Program) began. To participate, faculty, staff, and students living on-campus receive an air-tight one-gallon bucket. They discard food scraps in the bucket and bring their filled buckets to a convenient drop-off location each week. The first year, over 1,780 pounds of food scraps were collected from 76 students who participated.

Since 2012, over 180 tons of food scraps have been collected from Lake Shore Campus dining halls (excluding Damen), Engrained Café, and the Campus Compost Collective.

The Basics of Composting

Organic materials, like landscape waste and food, decompose naturally. The result is a nutrient-rich mixture called compost that provides minerals and nutrients for growing plants. This compost is used on gardens and agricultural fields to:

  • help soil retain moisture
  • provide nutrients for plants
  • reduce the need for fertilizers

Without the separate collection of food waste for composting, this valuable resource goes to waste in a landfill.

  • 40% of food produced in the United States goes uneaten and is discarded
  • 7 million tons of organic waste is sent to landfills annually in Chicago
  • 44,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases are produced by Loyola’s landfilled organic waste

Here’s what goes in the compost bin:

  • All food—fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, bones, cheese, grains
  • Coffee grounds & filters
  • Tea bags (no staples)
  • Non-waxy paper plates & cups
  • Pizza boxes
  • Paper napkins

Everything else is either recyclable or goes in the landfill. When in doubt, throw it in the landfill/trash bin as it takes time and money to sort through items that don’t belong in the compost or recycle bin. To learn what goes in the recycle bin, go here.

Composting at Events

In addition to the dining halls and café, additional compost collection can take place with your commitment. Whether it's a small or large event, it can be accomplished. A few additional steps to incorporate food-waste collection as part of your event:

  • Identify a few people/student workers in your department and assign them as compost coordinators
  • Contact the Campus Sustainability team at Sustainability@luc.edu to request compost collection training well in advance of your event. At least three weeks.
  • Compost collection training will go over what goes in the bin, station set up to collect composting and monitoring.
  • Monitoring is critical to the success of compost collection at Loyola.
  • Notify the catering company that you will collect plate-waste for composting. Additionally, discuss and plan with the caterer on ways to reduce landfill waste, such as one-time use condiment packets.

Loyola encourages Green Events. See the Green Event Checklists here.

Composting for all Loyolans

The Facilities Management Department and partners work together to promote change through action. There are individuals and departments that take action by composting their food waste and used paper towels generated while on campus.

Sign up for the Campus Compost Collective (aka Bucket Program). For interested faculty, staff, and for students living on-campus, please complete an agreement form and send to loyolacompost@gmail.com.

You will receive a one-gallon bucket and details for weekly campus drop-offs. Then you can begin composting and join others across the University, who are taking action and creating change.

Compost Contamination

Knowing how to compost correctly is essential before actually participating. Putting non-compostable items into a compost bin is called contamination and ruins the entire compost pile, which must be sent to a landfill.

Did you know…

  • The composting service Loyola uses will not accept a compost pile that has more than 10% contamination.
  • Contamination isn’t just about foreign items that won’t break down in soil. When non-compostable items like plastic bags get put into the compost bin, they can get stuck in the compost facility’s machinery, costing them time and money.
  • This means that proper composting counts. Compost right!