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Sustainable Solutions Challenge: Do You Compost?

We need innovative, long-term, behavior changing solutions

The 2021 Sustainable Solutions Challenge focuses on the increased quantities of single-use food packaging going to landfill in response to new safety protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dining Services and the Office for Sustainability are in the process of implementing a campus-wide composting strategy, including compostable food packaging, across campus retail locations. The 2021 Sustainable Solutions Challenge will complement this composting initiative by providing participating teams with an opportunity to design a solution aimed at increasing participation in the proper disposal of compostable packaging.

Students from all majors are invited to enter the Sustainable Solutions Challenge and pitch their best ideas for addressing the problems associated with proper disposal of single-use packaging and associated food materials in respective bins (i.e. compost or landfill bins). The team with the winning proposal will be awarded $500 per team member and will be invited to work on the implementation of their solution. 

Registration opens on February 8. Teams that register by February 19 will be emailed the Problem Statement before February 20. You can also read the Problem Statement below. 

This is a team challenge, with teams composed of a minimum of two with a maximum of four members. Initial written proposals are due by March 22, see Step 2 below for submission details. From there, a number of teams will be selected to move on to the preliminary presentation phase on April 7. We will be selecting three finalist teams to present virtually to a panel of faculty and staff during the week of April 12.

Please read the full directions and learn more about challenges around composting and waste at University of Richmond in the resources linked below.


Step 1: Register Your Team February 8-19

Registration is open between February 8 and February 19. Teams may have a minimum of two and a maximum of four members.

Please designate one member as your team contact. While information will be sent out to all team members, we ask that your team contact be the only person asking questions and submitting team materials. The Problem Statement is available on this website. 

At least one member of each team is required to attend the Developing Sustainable Solutions Workshop scheduled for February 26 from 4:30 – 5:30. This workshop will provide you tools to help you develop a winning solution.

Teams will also be invited to attend a Stakeholder Forum from 4:30 to 5:30 on March 10 to speak with staff from Facilities, Dining Services, and the Office for Sustainability to learn more about their experiences with single-use packaging on campus and the composting program. This will be your opportunity to ask questions from those involved in the process.

Teams can register here

Step 2: Written Proposals Due March 22

A written description of your solution specifically addressing how and to what extent your solution is expected to motivate behavior change towards composting must be submitted by 11:59 pm on March 22, 2021 to in Word format as an attachment.  A strong solution will be grounded in facts, include specific information on how your solution would be implemented, the stakeholders involved in implementation, challenges you anticipate with implementation, how those challenges could be overcome and detailed description of the financial cost of your proposal.

View the full evaluation rubric here.

Your written solution should be no more than five pages (12-font, double spaced, you may include appendices which are not included in the 5-page count). Teams selected to move on to the second round will have the opportunity to provide an oral and visual presentation of their proposed solution on April 5, 2021. 

Step 3: Preliminary Presentations April 7

Preliminary finalists will be invited to virtually present their proposed solution on April 7 to the following panel members:

-Scott Lincoln: Manager, Custodial and Environmental Services, University Facilities
-Sarah Murtaugh: Office for Sustainability Dining Intern and Compost Coordinator
-Kelsey Fastabend: Sustainability Program Coordinator, Office for Sustainability 
-Joyce van der Laan Smith: Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs, Associate Professor of Accounting in the Robins School of Business
-Emily Boone: Director of Biological Instruction, Department of Biology

Step 4: Final Presentations April 12

On April 12, three finalist teams will virtually present their proposed solutions to the following panel:

-Rob Andrejewski: Director of Sustainability, Office for Sustainability
-Terry Baker: Executive Director, Campus Dining
-Rachel Perry: UR '21
-Carol Parish: Floyd D. and Elisabeth S. Gottwald Professor of Chemistry and Associate Provost for Academic Integration
-Mickey Quiñones: Dean, Robins School of Business, Professor of Management
-Patrice Rankine: Dean, School of Arts and Sciences, Professor of Classics

Problem Statement

The Problem Statement for the 2021 Sustainable Solutions Challenge can be viewed here

Sustainable Solutions Challenge Partners