Sustainability at Facilities Management – Composting
Here at CSU we compost food waste, animal bedding, animal manure, green waste and more at our two composting installations – “Oscar” and “The Windrows”.
In 2010, Housing and Dining Services (HDS) invested in a state of the art, fully-automated composting system called the Earth Flow, or affectionately known as Oscar. This enclosed, 30-yard capacity compost bin is located on the CSU Foothills Campus. Each year, Oscar diverts approximately 300,000 pounds of pre-consumer food waste from the landfill. Oscar is also a living learning lab, providing student compost interns the opportunity to learn and experience about the composting process first hand. To learn more about Oscar and composting in Housing and Dining, please visit: https://housing.colostate.edu/about/sustainability/zero-waste/
Our Compost Story
CSU began running its Windrow composting facility on its Foothills campus (3 miles west of Main campus) in March 2017, with the goal to become financially self-sufficient. Initial funding, to construct the facility and buy equipment, was provided by the student-run University Facility Fee Advisory Board. The composting program continues to grow each month, and receives support and guidance from CSU’s dedicated staff, faculty, and students.
March 2017 – The Windrows began operation on Foothills Campus.We compost food waste, animal bedding, animal manure, green waste,and paper towels – all sourced from CSU’s multiple Fort Collins’ campuses.
- September 2017 – We collected compostable waste from our new on-campus stadium for the first time. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our student-run Zero Waste Team, at the first 6 home football games, we were able to divert over 1,000 pounds of compostable waste that would have ended up at the landfill, and the amount has increased to about 1,000 pounds per game.
- December 2017 – Between April 1st and December 31st, CSU incorporated 369 tons of compostable material into our Windrows, the equivalent of 45 elephants!
- March 2018 – This marks the one-year anniversary of our large scale composting operation! We now have created a total of 14 Windrows, and are making more every day.
“The Windrow” is a full-scale windrow composting facility located on our Foothills research campus in Fort Collins. The funding to construct the facility, which included grading, equipment and permitting was provided by the student-run University Facility Advisory Board.
From its start in March 2017 to March 2018, the windrows have composted over 396 tons of organic material, most of which would have ended up in the landfill if not for this operation.
Dedication to Students, Oscar and The Windrows are a living, learning laboratory where undergraduate and graduate students can work, volunteer, and learn about composting. It is part of CSU’s mission to teach future leaders about sustainability.
Waste Reduction, Composting rather than landfilling is a beneficial and sustainable way to manage solid waste like compostable containers used on campus, food, animal waste, animal bedding, paper towels, and more.
Using our Compost, CSU uses a portion of the finished compost produced by The Windrows and by Oscar on campus landscaping and horticulture projects. Compost is also donated to local farms and community members.
Planning for the Future, As more compost is produced, it will be bagged and sold to community business through Surplus Property.
Can I come and get CSU compost myself?
If you work in a department that would like to use some of CSU’s compost for educational or research purposes, please contact the Integrated Solid Waste Department in Facilities Management: https://www.fm.colostate.edu/isw
CSU sells bagged compost through Surplus Property, CSU’s reuse, resale and recycle point. You can find bagged compost for only $9 / bag at: http://cr.colostate.edu/surplus-property.html
Can I bring yard or food waste from home to CSU composting facilities?
No. Our facility is governed by State regulations and therefore we are only allowed to accept CSUgenerated compostables.
How can I get involved?
If you are a student, you can join the Zero Waste Team @ CSU. They help to educate the CSU community and ultimately decrease organic waste from going to the landfill. Visit their Ramlink page for more information: https://ramlink.campuslabs.com/engage/organization/zerowasteteamcsu or email them directly at email@example.com
Additionally, most buildings with a loading dock have a large brown bin for composting. Dump your organic waste in the bin, and it will be taken to The Windrows!
More and more buildings on campus are participating in composting by distributing public access compost buckets throughout academic buildings. To get a bucket for your building, or if you are interested in managing a compost bucket, contact Sheela Backen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With an expanding campus and community, we want to ensure that Rams stay educated on proper recycling practices. Contamination of recycling bins is an on-going problem that can result in large quantities of recyclables being sent to the landfill. Please use this graphic and help to spread the message. Recycle right! When in doubt – throw it out!
If you are excited about recycling, get excited about RecycleMania – CSU has also participated in RecycleMania since 2005, a nationwide voluntary recycling competition that allows university’s to encourage active involvement in waste reduction over a 10-week period. The goal is to promote student, faculty and staff awareness of waste minimization. Consistently, CSU places within the top 10% of schools in the nation.
To learn more, please visit the official RecycleMania website.
Additional Diversion Options at CSU
For proper disposal of other items and materials, CSU offers a variety of services to help divert unwanted items from the landfill.
- Surplus Property – located on the Southwest corner of campus (201 W. Lake St.), CSU Surplus Property specializes in the reuse, re-sale, and recycling of items owned by the university. The store is open to the public and all university departments. Special ewaste (electronic waste) collection is also offered for students, faculty, and staff to bring unwanted or broken electronics to be properly disposed of for a small service fee. For a detailed list of acceptable items, visit the webpage here: http://cr.colostate.edu/surplus-property.html
- “Pack It, Store, It, Donate It” Move-Out Program – Housing and Dining Services, with campus partners and local groups, continue the CSU sustainability tradition of keeping gently used items out of the landfill during student move out each May. In earlier years, donations were collected, sorted, tagged and sold through CSU Surplus at the beginning of each academic year. In 2018, the program evolved to collect and sort student donations to the Homeward Alliance and their network of local non-profits. Other participants include ChairTableHome and the City of Fort Collins.
- Batteries – there are special collection buckets scattered around campus – please find one if you need one – do not send you batteries to the landfill! We can accept: Alkaline, NiCad (NiCd), Gel pack, or Rechargeable
- Please call 970-491-0113 for a special collection container (call for empty and return on these containers)
Tips for Zero Waste Events!
In line with promoting sustainability on campus and in the community, CSU’s Zero Waste Team is a student-led volunteer group with a passion for reducing waste on campus and in daily life choices. The Zero Waste Team consistently attends home football games with the goal of making sure that compost, trash, and recycling stations are properly sorted. Interested in joining? Email email@example.com to get involved!
Hosting Your Own Zero Waste Event:
To kick-off a zero waste event of your own there’s just a few things you’ll need before getting started.
- Compost, recycle and trash bins – easily accessible
- Reusable plates, cups and utensils (preferred); but compostable items also work
- Informing people how to properly dispose items in bins (making sure recyclables are clean!)
Following these simple steps can help to host zero waste events for almost any occasion! Composting and recycling allow us to re-use a significant portion of the waste we produce on a daily basis and divert it from the landfill. Here at CSU we’re committed to reducing our impact as a university and empowering students, faculty and staff alike to take the same initiative in their daily lives!
For more information or questions about the nature of zero waste events contact Jennifer.N.Williams@colostate.edu.
For more information about Integrated Solid Waste at CSU – trash, recycling, or composting – please contact Jennifer Williams at Jennifer.N.Williams@colostate.edu or (970)491-0122.
For more information about waste diversion in Housing and Dining services, contact HDS_Sustainability@colostate.edu.