Composting option still unavailable for students living in apartments on campus

Students who are passionate about reducing food waste may be unable to do their part if they live in apartments on campus.

Composting is currently available to 11 residence halls, including Chestertown, Easton, Anne Arundel, Bel Air, Cambridge, Dorchester, Ellicott, Elkton, Oakland, Prince Frederick and Worcester Halls, but there is no composting for students who live in apartments and suites.

Of the 11 resident halls that we are currently collecting compostables, none are suites or apartments,” said Adrienne Small, Facilities Management recycling specialist. “We are working on a collection plan for these areas and will likely start a small pilot next school year.”

In addition to the efforts in residence halls, Dining Services composts food waste in four major locations: the Diner, South Campus Dining Room, 251 North and Stamp Student Union. The LEAF Outreach team, a group of interns in the Office of Sustainability, spotlights students in Stamp who are caught “green handed” by composting their food waste or refilling reusable water bottles.

But students who wish to compost food waste in their own kitchens do not have the option.

“In terms of suites and apartments, the trash is managed by the roommates so you don’t have the convenience and access to just go into the hallway and compost,” RHA vice president Sasha Galbreath said. “Basically, bringing composting into the apartment-style living dynamic is harder to sell to those who would rather just dispose of everything into the trash and get on with their day.”

South Campus Commons and Courtyards apartments also do not offer a composting option to residents.

“I’m only really able to throw small things down the disposal and there’s nothing to do with the bigger things that we end up throwing out,” said junior physics major and Commons resident Kevin Porter.

“It would make me feel better that our food doesn’t go completely to waste… They would probably have to provide us with a bin or else I see like no one doing it,” he added.

South Campus Commons associate director Anwar Cruter declined to comment on the potential implementation of a composting program in their apartment buildings.

“Our Sustainability Committee (SCOM) works on both programming and policy to bring sustainability efforts to the forefront of students’ minds when going about their day-to-day practices,” Galbreath said. “So, while we may not have the structure within all our living spaces for composting yet, we aim at persuading our campus to preserve our environment, even if it means going out of their way to compost.”

RHA and Facilties Management hope to launch a pilot program in on-campus apartments and suites next school year. Hopefully, Commons and other local apartment complexes and student residences will follow suit.