Composting is the process where organic waste is broken down by micro-organisms, decomposed to produce rich soil-like product called humus. Humus has many applications that can contribute significantly to soil texture and fertility, beneficial for horticultural and agricultural processes.
In 2009, the Office of Sustainability worked with MACgreen, Hospitality Services and Facility Services to
investigate the opportunity to incorporate composting as a method of waste diversion on campus.
It was found that a variety of models could be used in combination to support the unique requirements of the various areas across campus.
Both a backyard-style composting system and a third-party collection system were piloted on campus in 2009.
- Divert organic waste from landfill.
- Pilot two different composting systems to determine best application
- Make recommendations for expansion and further diversion.
A 4th year Geography and Environmental Studies student intern piloted a backyard-style composting system in an unused portion of McMaster’s Biology Greenhouse. Utilizing funds and support from the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG), McMaster’s Faculty of Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, Facility Services, Hospitality Services, and Office of Sustainability, composting bins and supplies were purchased. Organic material from two campus eateries, Bridges and the University Club, was instrumental in supporting the composting process. This program has composted approximately 1.2 tonnes of organic material from McMaster’s waste stream in its initial five months of operation.
A third-party composting pilot program took place beginning in the spring of 2010 in the preparation area of Mary E. Keyes Residence eatery, East Meets West Bistro. Mary E. Keyes collects 30 bins, weighing 90 kilograms each, of organic material each week, resulting in the elimination of 123.69 tonnes of CO2e. This program is expected to expand to all “back-of-house” eatery locations across campus as the system is piloted and perfected.
In addition, food composting facilitated waste-free events throughout the year for the first time at McMaster.
The organic waste is sent to one of McMaster’s two composting programs mentioned above. Please contact the Office of Sustainability if you would like to co-ordinate composting for your waste-free event.
McMaster’s backyard-style composting program is led by Geography and Environmental Studies student
intern, Julia Shulist, with support from OPIRG, Faculty of Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, Facility Services,
Hospitality Services, and the Office of Sustainability.
McMaster’s third-party composting program is facilitated by McMaster’s Facility Services, Hospitality Services, and
Office of Sustainability. The organic material is collected Planet Earth and composted by Walker Environmental Group.
Composting Council of Canada
City of Hamilton Green Cart Composting
December 19, 2011
Office Green Bins
Championing organics waste disposal in an office area is a great way to promote sustainability and engage students and staff in an initiative to decrease waste production.
To start, you must identify at least one champion to lead this initiative in your area, which will involve communication with other student and staff members in the office as well as emptying the green bin on a frequent basis. Communicating and obtaining feedback and support from all students and staff in the office is important to effectively facilitate the program. In addition, the champion must identify the closest composting bin, such as the one located in MUSC across from Union Market for which to deposit composting material. Providing educational and support material to staff and students will also support an effective and successful program.
The Office of Sustainability has developed template emails to help champions communicate the program within their departements. Please feel free to use them.
For more information about how to champion this initiative in your area, including request for educational material please contact the Office of Sustainability at email@example.com. Please contact Facility Services at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a compost bin and bin liners.
Working with McMaster's Waste Services Provider, BFI, and Compost Service Providers, Planet Earth and Walker Environmental Group, McMaster has successfully expanded its composting program beyond Mary E. Keyes to include all of the following areas:
McMaster Students Union (NEW June 2012)
Composting of all food scraps in the MSU office kitchen.
McMaster University Student Centre (NEW Jan 12, 2012)
Public compost bin located across from Union Market in MUSC.
Mary E. Keyes
Composting of all food scraps and other organic material from Mary E. Keyes kitchen and dining area.
Composting of all food scraps and other organic material from Bridges' kitchen.
Composting of all food scraps and other organic material from Twelve Eighty's kitchen and dining area.
Composting of food scraps and organic material such as coffee grinds, sugar packets, wooden stir sticks, coffee cups and bagel crumbs.
Composting of food scraps and other organic material from the main La Piazza kitchen area.
Composting of all food scraps and other organic material from the Phoenix kitchen and dining area.
Communications Research Laboratory
Composting of food scraps from staff kitchen areas and paper towels from selected washrooms.
List of Acceptable Items:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Meat, including bones
- Soup and sauce
- Bread products
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Waxed paper
- Cooking Fat
- Paper plates
- Paper towel
- Milk cartons
- Paper coffee cups
- Wooden Skewers
- Popcorn Bags
Items that do not go in:
- All plastics
- Saran wrap
- Floor Sweepings
Where does McMaster's composting go?
All organic material is taken away daily by composting hauler, Planet Earth, to the Walker Environmental Group Compost facility in Thorold, Ontario. The end product of high quality soil blends, compost, and mulches are used by the agricultural and landscaping industries.