This project successfully implemented a permanent composting collection program at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service located at 295 Lafayette Street, Floors 2 and 3. Food waste currently represents the single largest component of municipal solid waste reaching landfills and incinerators in the United States. When this food waste decomposes, it releases significant amounts of methane - a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. A composting program at Wagner not only only reduces the amount of waste going to a landfill, but improve the school’s carbon footprint, contribute to the development of healthier soils, and increase the awareness of this important issue across Wagner.
Wagner’s Environmental Policy & Action club (WEPA) demonstrated the feasibility of a successful composting program through two pilot composting collection events during the 2010-2011 academic year. The pilots successfully collected two 39-gallon toters full of food waste and compostable servingware at each event.
To implement this program, WEPA:
- Purchased and install a fixed three-compartment bin at Wagner’s main collection location, institutionalizing ongoing compost collection in an academic facility that is shared by staff, faculty, and students.
- Developed and initiate an educational campaign to faculty, staff, and students that frequent the Wagner Puck location. A key objective of the proposed composting initiative was to increase awareness about the benefits of composting and to educate relevant stakeholders about proper waste disposal. This education campaign involved strategic signage, partnerships with student groups to educate respective members, and in-person trainings for staff, faculty, and students.
Tom Boman Wagner Student and WEPA Member
- Compost collection throughout floors 2 & 3 of the Puck building began in October 2012 and is now a permanent service
- Puck now composts an average of 40lbs daily, suggesting an yearly waste diversion of five tons and GHG reduction of about 8 MTCE
- Team members found that approximately 65% of waste in Wagner's academic space is compostable when baselining the pre-project waste stream, while surveyed occupants estimated that 14% of their daily waste is compostable