Composting is nature's way of recycling. Composting biodegrades organic waste such as food waste, leaves, grass trimmings, paper and wood and turns it into a valuable organic fertilizer.
We are growing the compost collection program across UNC Charlotte's campus. In January 2019, with a CGI Grant, we added the first-ever customer facing compost collection on campus at Orbis Grille in the PORTAL building. Customers who dine-in at Orbis Grille now have the option to separate the compostable items from the non-compostable items. Orbis Grille and PORTAL had already committed to compostable serving ware, including their silverware and to-go containers. In addition, all food waste and napkins can be composted. Through waste audits of Orbis Grille's trash, we know that 60% of the waste can be composted, so this project is poised to make a big difference. Pending the program's success, we hope that future customer-facing composting will be available to students, staff and faculty across campus.
Orbis Grille Compost Collection Bin:
Behind the scenes kitchen composting in also available at most all dining facilities on campus. From Chick-fil-A to Subway, the employees at these facilities are separating out the food waste used in cooking and food preparation. And, if you frequent Crown Commons or South Village Dining Hall, your food is also being composted through a pulper system. Once you put your plate on the conveyor system, it gets rinsed into the pulper. The pulper then removes the water and chops the food into tiny pieces ready for compost. Once the food waste and compostable material is separated from all these facilities, it is picked up by Earth Farms, a local composting company located in Gaston County. Earth Farms hauls the food waste to their facility where it is composted using a windrow system. The completed compost, which looks much like soil, can be used as a soil amendment in gardens, farms, landscaping, athletic fields and more.
Example of food waste collected at kitchens:
UNC Charlotte also has a unit called an Earth Tub that handles a few small office compost collections across campus. The Earth Tub facilitates the composting process and produces usable soil amendments when complete.