Richmond Home

Composting

There are strategic, environmental, social, and financial benefits to composting.

This composting initiative aligns with our University Value of Stewardship and is part of the University’s Sustainability Plan, which was adopted in 2019. In the plan, UR established a goal of diverting 75% of our waste from the landfill. As much as one-third of the waste that currently goes to the landfill on campus is compostable. Therefore, composting is an essential strategy for achieving our aims. 

Composting is good for the environment. For many of us, when we throw our waste items into the bin, it simply goes “away.” In reality, there is no away – our waste always ends up somewhere. When food goes to the landfill, it releases nitrogen, methane, and volatile organic compounds during decomposition. On the other hand, when food waste and compostable materials go to a composting facility, these items are converted to a healthy soil amendment through a process that mimics nature. Composting cycles organic waste back into our food system, rather than allowing it to sit in a hole in the ground. 

Composting is a visible signal of the University’s commitment to sustainability. Unlike some other initiatives, such as our investment in renewable energy and energy efficient operations, waste is something students interact with on a daily basis. The Rethink Waste team has improved recycling systems and education. Composting is the next step in our evolution and efforts to divert 75% of our waste from the landfill. 

Students and staff at the University of Richmond have been piloting composting efforts for years at events like Spiders Go Green football and basketball games. Recent increases in waste have increased the call for composting from our student body. Dining Services’ incredible efforts to provide safe and delicious to-go meals led to an unintended consequence of increased waste at the bin. The first change to address this was introducing reusable bags. Capturing compostable materials for responsible reuse is the next step. 

Our partnership with Natural Organic Processes Enterprise (NOPE), will allow us to capture processed compost, which can be used on campus in Abby’s Garden or on grounds for landscaping. This will help us reduce the use of chemical fertilizer around campus, which is an environmental and financial benefit. Because one-third of our landfill waste is compostable, we will also reduce the number of trucks coming to campus to haul our landfill materials, saving money and reducing vehicle emissions.

 

Where can I compost?

Currently, you can compost your food and dining waste at the Heilman Dining Center Forum tent, Organic Krush, Carole Weinstein International Center tent, and both tents outside of Tyler Haynes Commons. Heilman Dining Center and kitchens in all retail dining locations participate in pre-consumer composting. Check back here and follow us @beagreenspider for updates on new locations. 

What is compostable?

Any food waste, food-related paper or food-related cardboard, and wooden food items (like toothpicks or chopsticks) will be collected at the compost bins. Student workers known as Compost Coordinators will help consumers sort their waste properly. 

All items from Organic Krush are compostable. 

What is not compostable?

Any man-made, synthetic materials are not compostable. Items like straws, plastic utensils, insulated cups, plastic bags, condiment packets, coffee creamer cups, glass, and metal can’t be composted. Most coffee cups and blue Pepsi cups are also not compostable.

Where does our composting go?

The University has partnered with local company Natural Organic Processes Enterprise, or also known as NOPE, to collect and haul our compostable materials. NOPE will bring the items to McGill Environmental Systems Composting Facility in Waverly, Virginia.

Does the University receive compost as part of this agreement?

For every ton of compostable material brought to McGill, the University will receive 40 pounds of processed compost for use in Abby’s Garden or on campus grounds.