Loyola University Chicago

School of Environmental Sustainability


About the Composting Initiative


About the Composting Initiative

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

Also in 2013, the Campus Compost Collective (now called the Compost 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. That first year, over 1,780 pounds of food scraps were collected from the 76 students who participated. Annually this program collects between 4 and 6,000 pounds of organic waste.

Since 2012, Loyola has been collecting compost through landscaping, dining halls, special events, the compost bucket program and other activities. Annually we divert between 150 and 200 tons of organic waste from the landfill. That is 20% of all waste at Lake Shore Campus! This is then recycled into healthy soil amendment (compost) to be added to local farms and gardens.

Composting for all Loyolans

Sign up for the  Compost Bucket Program! For interested faculty, staff, and for students living on- or near-Lake Shore Campus, please complete an agreement form and send to sustainability@luc.edu. You will receive a one-gallon compost bucket and a weekly drop-off schedule. Then you can begin composting and join others across the University who are taking action and creating change. 

All participants must attend a short training to participate. If you miss the training scheduled each semester, contact us and see if we can arrange a training during one of the drop-off times. Fall training events information can be found here: Compost Bucket Workshop Flyer - Fall 2020

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.

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 can be 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 Engrained 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 staff/faculty/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 notice needed and requests will be accommodated as staffing allows).
  • Schedule your compost collection training to 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!

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 then 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 the 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 correctly!

If you are off-campus and still interested in composting, visit this site for more information on compost options available to you.