Lewis expands composting program at Charlie’s Place

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Lewis University expands composting program at Charlie’s Place

Published: May 8, 2014.

Lewis University’s largest dining hall on campus, Charlie’s Place recently expanded its program of composting pre-consumer food scraps, which includes all food waste created during meal prep throughout the day, to also including post-consumer food scraps.

The program expansion began on April 7 to start off a month-long celebration of environmental sustainability. Within the first month of collecting pre-consumer food waste, four tons had been diverted from the landfill. Today, that number is reaching over 40 tons being taken away.

“It was the success of this program, as well as a student waste audit that helped make the decision to expand the program to include post-consumer waste,” said Jaclyn Boyle, facilities coordinator for sustainability and administration. “This audit was performed by Lewis University students, and revealed that each week in Charlie's Place approximately 260 pounds of post-consumer food waste was being sent to rot in a landfill.”

Post-consumer composting asks students, faculty, staff and visitors to be mindful when disposing of leftovers from their meal. Color-themed waste stations are in the dining hall—a blue bin for recycling, a green bin for composting and a black bin for landfill. The color themed bins are continued throughout the university as the existing recycling bins were modified to accommodate the addition of composting.

The food scraps are collected twice a week by Waste Management and brought to a composting facility five minutes from Lewis University, Willow Ranch. The nutrient rich compost created at this facility is used as a soil amendment to create more food, thus creating a closed loop system and using the waste to its highest potential. Adversely, when sent to a landfill food scraps decay and release methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

The start of composting at Lewis University was assisted financially and technically by the Compost Collection Network. It helps institutions and businesses participate in commercial compost programs by providing technical assistance and essential supplies such as compost bins, signage, and biodegradable bags. The network is funded through The Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust.

For more information about the program or to get involved, contact Jaclyn Boyle at boyleja@lewisu.edu or (815) 836-5716.

Lewis University is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 6,600 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report. Visit www.lewisu.edu for further information.

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