We recommend St. Paul's College implement a composting program by following these suggestions:
1) The Number of Composters
After analyzing the data from the 1992 Feasibility Study for Composting at St. Jerome's and St. Paul's Colleges, as well as data from this year, we are able to suggest the number of composters that will be needed for composting to work at an optimum level. This was calculated by measuring the amounts of organic waste produced and comparing that data to the size and volume of compost bins. The minimum number of compost bins required is 3, the maximum number needed is 9, and the mean number is 6 single unit composters. We suggest St. Paul's invests in 9 composting bins. It would be advantageous for St. Paul's to have 9 composters to ensure that the bins will not overflow during peak periods. The recommendations for the number of composters is based on the size and capacity of the single-unit composters, like those that are donated by the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. The city has tentatively scheduled April 26, 1997 as the composter giveaway day.
Another type of composter is the three-unit container. This container,which was described in the background section of this report holds three times as much organic waste as the single-unit. This means that fewer composters will be needed. We suggest that 3 of these composters could be put to use for the volume of compost that St.Paul's generates. Instructions for building this three unit composter can be obtained by calling the Recycling Council of Ontario at 1-800-263-2849.
2) Summer Term Pilot Project
We recommend that St. Paul's do a pre-test during the Summer term to assess the likelihood of the program running smoothly during the Fall and Winter terms. This pre-test will determine if the staff and students are willing to take part in the program, show if the food wastes are being composted and whether or not results are being produced. If this test works sufficiently, St. Paul's can then increase their number of composters to handle the capacity of compostables that will be produced in the future. Seeing the compost program in action will address some of the concerns of the administration, such as student participation. Members of the administration and interested students could meet and evaluate the effectiveness of the pilot project. They could make improvements for the management of the compost program by working together. The program could then be adapted to the fall term, based on the outcome of the pilot project.
3) Location of the Compost Units
We recommend that the composting units be located at the Southwest corner of St. Paul's parking lot, on the soil. The garbage bins are already located in this area. This would be ideal because it addresses the concerns of inconvenience to the cafeteria staff and other functional problems. If located by the garbage bins, there would be little inconvenience to the staff of the kitchen because the compost could be taken out with the garbage. We found that some of the technical problems of the St. Jerome's College composting program could be solved by changing the location of the composters. If they are placed on the soil, the organisms neccessary for decomposition can easily move up through the composting materials. Also, the location we have recommended is on the south side of the building where the compost will recieve an adequate amount of solar heat. However, since this particular location is owned by the University, St. Paul's will have to receive permission from Plant Operations to put the composters on this site.
4) Seasonal Considerations
Composting during the winter, was another concern expressed during our interviews with administrators at St. Paul's. To prepare for the cold winter months, it is a good idea to cover the composters with a thick dark plastic sheet . This can maximize the heat in the composters by absorbing the solar heat and retaining the heat generated by the decomposing organisms. The compost process can thereby continue throughout the winter with minimal chance of freezing.
During the summer, if the compost pile gets too dry due to the sunny location, add water so that the pile is as damp as a moist sponge. Other technical solutions can be viewed in Appendix #3. If St. Paul's College or any other organization has concerns specific to their composting program, they can contact the Regional Municipality of Waterloo.
5) Managing the Composting Program
We have come up with suggestions to make the management of the program simple and effective. We believe the program should function as follows:
Separation of Compost and Other Food Wastes:
Maintenance of the Composters:
We feel that students can and should take on most of the responsibility of conducting the work for the composting program. To redirect responsibility from staff to students, an Environmental Representative should be created within the Student's Council. The representative could be responsible for co-ordinating volunteers for the duties of turning and managing the compost. This person would also monitor the compost pile to see when compost is ready for use. The representative can then inform the groundskeeper.
Using the Soil Produced by Composting:
The groundskeeper can use the nutrient-rich soil on St. Paul's lawns and gardens. This may reduce the costs of fertilizers and would be an enhancement of the soil and garden quality.
Educating the Students and Staff
This composting program depends on the participation of the staff and students of St. Paul's College. Once an Environmental Representative is chosen by the Student's Council, this individual, along with the administration, can review the suggested composting methods. Together, they can make a plan of action for implementing a fully functional composting program. The Environmental Representative can post signs explaining what can be composted in the kitchen and cafeteria.
We feel that by following these recommendations, the composting program will run smoothly.
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Last updated April 17, 1997.