Expanded organic waste collection helps reduce Queen's carbon footprint
Queen’s University is expanding its organic waste collection program by capturing food waste from its kitchens and sending it offsite to a composting facility. Queen’s Sustainability Office anticipates that the program will divert more than 300 tonnes of food waste annually.
Achieving this level of waste diversion can reduce some of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with taking the garbage to landfill. Since the composting site is closer to the university than the landfill site, the emissions related to transportation are less. In addition, the compost itself eventually returns to the soil where carbon is stored rather than released.
“This is an important component in our suite of sustainable initiatives to help reduce Queen’s carbon footprint,” says Audrey Kaplan, Director, Campus Planning and Development.
According to a 2005 campus waste audit, roughly 28 per cent of the landfill waste stream consists of organic material. Until recently, Queen’s options for diverting this type of waste had been limited to a pilot project at Leonard Hall kitchen.
The new organic waste program targets the food waste from kitchen areas, including the Donald Gordon Centre, University Club, Ban Righ Dining Hall, MacCorry Cafeteria, JDUC Sidewalk Cafe Beamish Munro Hall, West Campus Dining Room, Lazy Scholar, Gord’s and Tim Horton’s in Biosciences and Botterell.
As an extension of the university’s waste services provided by Waste Services, Inc., the organics bins will be delivered on a weekly schedule to the Norterra Organics composting site
Once the logistics of collecting the organic waste were arranged, the program’s implementation was straight forward. Kitchen staff already separated cans, plastic, glass and mixed fiber to be recycled, so it was simply a matter of adding some “organics only” bins.
“It really has become just part of what we do for a sustainable future,” says Phil Sparks, Sodexo Resident District Manager.
The new organic waste collection program is similar to the City of Kingston’s Green Bin Program and will ensure that all compostable items such as meat, dairy products, produce, coffee grounds, paper towels and napkins, uncoated paper take-out containers, cups, plates, and pizza boxes go into organics bins, rather than the garbage bins.
The Waste Collection Program is administered through the Queen’s Sustainability Office and any questions or concerns should be forwarded to Llynwen Osborne or Aaron Ball.