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Competent Composting at Penn State

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Penn State has a tremendous composting infrastructure, so to encourage its use; I asked people to pledge to compost at least one item on Earth Day. I collected sixty pledges from people all around campus, so up to 55 pounds of waste was removed from the landfill and put to good use as soil after processing by OPP here on campus. I also created a web page at sites.psu.edu/competentcomposting to provide more information on composting correctly.

Composting is an important part of Penn State’s ultimate goal of zero landfill-bound waste. According to Mobius, Penn State’s recycling and waste management program, composting is projected to divert an additional 1,791 tons of waste from our waste stream.

Of course, the success of this program is dependent upon participation on campus. Empty compost bins or compost bins with any non-compostable materials undermine the objectives of the program. Any non-compostable materials in a compost bin force the bin’s entire contents to go into the trash rather than to better uses nurturing greenery around campus and fertilizing agricultural research fields. Compostable materials consist of food waste and most paper products, and other waste can be disposed of in other recycling bins or the trash if no better alternative is available.

Although this small pledge drive was just for a day, making composting a part of daily routines can make a significant impact, going from 55 pounds to 1,791 tons (the difference between 1 medium-sized dog and 275 elephants) in organic waste diverted from the landfill.

Penn State also has the unique opportunity to successfully divert our organic waste and set a great example for other college campuses looking to implement similar composting programs. Thanks again to all those participating in Penn State’s composting initiative, and keep making the world a better place one small step at a time!

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