Food Waste Composting
Carolina Dining Services collects food scraps for composting in Chase and Lenoir Dining Halls, the Beach Café, Alpine Bagel Café, Wendy’s and the Friday Center. The Carolina Green Events program additionally collects compostables from special events and three event locations on campus.
Since the beginning of the composting program in 2000, UNC has composted over 11 million pounds of food waste and compostable materials. Preliminary waste audits indicate that compostable materials are the largest part of the campus waste stream. These include food waste, food-soiled paper, compostable bio-plastics (PLA), and other organic materials, such as plant waste. Carolina Dining Services and the Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling are exploring options to build on the success of the current program in order to capture more compostable materials.
Compostable materials from UNC are picked up and processed by Brooks Contractors. As a commercial composting facility, they are able to manage such a large amount and variety of food waste and efficiently turn it into compost, a nutrient-rich soil amendment. Compost has applications in agriculture, horticulture, stormwater management, and erosion control. It adds nutrients to the soil, reduces the need for pesticides, neutralizes soil toxins, conserves moisture, and stabilizes root growth, among other benefits.
In addition to creating a valuable product for the local ecosystem, composting keeps organic material out of landfills where it may anaerobically decompose and produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas. This makes the composting program an essential component of UNC’s Climate Action Plan, which aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. In 2011, for example, composting resulted in a reduction of 276 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.
What Can I Do with My Food Scraps?
How Can I Compost…
- At an Event? You may reserve compost bins for on-campus events through the Carolina Green Events program.
- In My Residence Hall? OWRR currently operates a pilot food waste collection program in select residence halls. To learn more or express interest in the program, visit the Residence Hall Recycling & Composting page.
- At the Office? OWRR does not provide food waste collection services to individual offices. You may bring fruit and vegetables scraps to the Carolina Campus Community Garden, located on Wilson Street, also accepts drop-off fruit and vegetable scraps. The compost is used on the garden, which is used to produce fruit and vegetables for UNC’s lower wage workers. Find out more about the garden.
- At Home (off-campus housing)? If you are interested in starting to compost at home, visit Orange County Solid Waste Management’s Compost Resources. You may bring fruit and vegetables scraps to the Carolina Campus Community Garden, located on Wilson Street, which accepts drop-off fruit and vegetable scraps. The compost is used on the garden, which is used to produce fruit and vegetables for UNC’s lower wage workers. Find out more about the garden.
Questions about composting opportunities on campus? Contact OWRR at 919-962-1442 or firstname.lastname@example.org.