In an effort to reduce Bradley’s environmental footprint, food waste from cafeterias on campus is being collected and turned into compost.
Simply put, composting is the process of organic matter, such as food scraps and dead leaves, breaking down. About one-third of all the garbage put into landfills is made up of food scraps and paper products that could be composted instead of being thrown out.
“I do not have a total waste number as of yet, but would esti- mate hundreds of pounds a week,” said Director of Dining Services Ron Gibson.
On Monday, staff in the Geisert and Williams cafeterias began col- lecting food waste to be picked up by Midwest Fiber Recycling. The scraps will be taken to Bloomington at Illinois State University. Once it gets there, the students and staff at the ISU farm will mix it with manure and yard waste such as grass cuttings and leaves, to make it into compost.
By using compost, farmers can use natural fertilizer instead of chemicals to increase crop growth, which is beneficial to those becom- ing more aware of what they eat.
“I have been trying to get involved with composting for sev- eral years but there was not an avenue in the Peoria market until I met the folks at Midwest Fiber,” Gibson said.
Because the program is just beginning, Gibson said there is limited opportunity for students to participate.
“At this time, there really is no way to get students involved,” Gibson said. “It’s still early in the process but I certainly would encourage students to get more involved in the recycling opera- tions on campus as well as at their homes.”
Within the next few weeks, the program will be extended to all other dining facilities on campus. In addition to Bradley and ISU, Illinois Wesleyan University and Heartland Community College are also beginning compost programs. By keeping this waste out of landfills in the region, these schools and Midwest Fiber Recycling hope to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce overall landfill waste and help with agricultural efforts to use organic fertilizers.