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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Students push for new compost plan

Published: February 9, 2007
Section: Front Page

Brandeis students and staff members, along with Aramark Food Services and Wellesley Trucking, are working to help the university reduce its ecological footprint. The Brandeis Environmental Sustainability Team (BEST), Students for Environmental Action (SEA), and Professor Laura Goldins American studies course, “Greening the Ivory Tower,” are working to create a greener campus by composting the cafeteria waste.

Students have been trying to find a way to compost the waste at Brandeis for the past several years. Attempts to create an on-campus composting site have been thwarted due to construction and lack of space, and other options were too costly. Students approached Supervisor of Grounds and Vehicles and BEST member Dennis Finn, who helped arrange an agreement between Wellesley Trucking, the universitys waste hauler, and We Care, a composting facility in Marlborough. Wellesley Trucking has agreed to transport waste from the Usdan and Sherman dumpsters to We Care, with no additional cost to the university. We Care will sort out the non-compostable materials and compost the remaining waste.

Cafeteria waste has been hauled to We Care since mid-December as an experiment to test the contamination levels. The results showed that the Brandeis waste stream had toxic levels low enough to be used as compost, said Finn. He will also work with Rich Rubini from Aramark to find ways to improve the quality of the waste stream and keep contamination levels low.

The composting will reducehe amount of food and trash in landfills, making the campus more sustainable, said SEA coordinator Stephanie Sofer 09. This has been a long time coming. Brandeis is not the first university to do this, and now the Brandeis community is one step forward in becoming ecologically friendly.

According to Professor Goldin, a tremendous amount of garbage is produced every year at Brandeis. There is a shortage of landfills and waste must be trucked out of state, which uses a lot of energy. Composting decreases the amount of waste that goes to landfills, and the compost is used to provide nutrients for soil.

Its the best of all worlds. We can compost the waste with no added cost and no extra work for the Aramark staff, said Goldin. This is really more good news at Brandeis as we work toward environmental sustainability. Its great to see people working with other members of the Brandeis community, taking initiative and working toward a more environmentally friendly campus.