Composting diverts organic waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill, thus the life of the landfill is extended. Composting is beneficial at UW because it results in a nutrient rich soil, and therefore, reduces the costs of fertilizer and soils that are purchased for landscaping. By implementing a composting program, St. Paul's College can be more sustainable.The focus of this study was to determine methods of composting that would be effective and efficient at St. Paul's College. We used three main questions to focus our research:

The methods we used to answer these questions included interviews, a mini waste audit, and general research. The issues we used to evaluate a composting program for St. Paul's involved the reduction of waste, participation and awareness.

Previous Watgreen projects aided us in proposing an effective composting program for St. Paul's. We investigated different methods of composting and discovered that either a single unit or a three-bin backyard composter will work effectively at St. Paul's. We verified the data that was collected from the 1992 Feasibility Study of Composting at St. Jerome's and St. Paul's Colleges for the number of meals served, and volume of compostables. This was done using a mini-waste audit that measured the weight and volume of compostables, the number of meals served, and an overview of the types of compostables discarded. We also used the cafeteria attendance for a full year. All of this has demonstrated that the amount of organic waste produced at St. Paul's and the cafeteria attendance has remained fairly constant since the 1992 study. Therefore, we were able to estimate the number of composters needed according to the volume of compostables produced using the 1992 data.

The people that would be involved with a composting program at St. Paul's College are the administration, the staff (i.e. dishwashers), and the students. Each of these groups will play an important role in the maintenance, management, and participation concerning a composting program. The movement of food into, within, and out of the cafeteria shows how food waste is generated and disposed of at the college. By examining the movement of food within the kitchen and cafeteria areas, we were able to note where waste is produced and collected. This helped us to design a method of separating compost and garbage.

The results of our research indicate that St. Jerome's kitchen staff puts the compostables in designated containers and their Environment Officer turns the compost, adds the necessary material, and will use the finished compost for the gardens at the college. The problems being encountered are:

Those interviewed at St. Paul's College responded positively to our project by showing great interest in a possible composting program. However, they were concerned about who would take on the responsibilities involved, and the possible lack of participaton by students.

The results from the mini waste audit showed the minimum volume of compostable waste produced in one year at St. Paul's to be 6700 litres and the maximum volume to be 8200 litres. Therefore, we conclude that St. Paul's will need a minimum of three composters, a mean of six, and a maximum of nine composters (calculated for a single unit composter). We suggest that St. Pau's use nine composters in order to accomodate peak loading times. We also recommend that St. Paul's conduct a pilot project during the summer term of 1997, to ensure that the program runs smoothly before implementing it on a larger scale for the fall and winter terms. The composters should be located on the south side of the building near the garbage bins, on a soil base. This will allow for decompostition to occur in a minimum timespan. During the winter the compost should be covered with thick dark plastic sheeting to absorb the maximum amount of solar heat and trap the heat emitted by the decomposer organisms.

The composting program at St. Paul's can function in the following manner: kitchen staff separates compostables generated by meal preparation, students separate the unconsumed portions of food after meals, and student dishwashers take the compost out to the bins when they take the garbage out after the dinner shift. In order to limit the work for staff, an Environmental Representative should be created as part of the Student's Council. This person would coordinate volunteers to turn and maintain the compost in the bins. This representative would also be responsible for monitoring the amount of compost being produced in order to let the groundskeeper know when there is a useable amount. The groundskeeper can then use the nutrient rich soil on the lawns and gardens at the college. Education of staff and students is the responsibility of both the administration and the environmental representative. Signs posted in both the kitchen and the cafeteria are one way to inform staff and students of what can and cannot be composted.

By implementing a composting program, St. Paul's will be making a contribution towards a more sustainable University of Waterloo campus. By initiating composting at St. Paul's, the students and staff will become more environmentally conscious. This project was intended to give recommendations for the college on implementing an effective and manageable composting program.We hope that St. Paul's will consider these recommendations and implement a composting program based on our suggestions.

Return to Table of Contents

Last updated April 15, 1997.