TEMPE, Ariz. — A bin of apple cores, half-eaten sandwiches and other scraps thrown out at Arizona State University’s Barrett Dining Hall would usually end up in a landfill. Instead, it will become compost to grow gardens and trees.
Committing to the Food Recovery Challenge organized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Arizona’s three public universities have pledged to reduce food waste on their campuses by a minimum of 5 percent over the next year. They are among dozens of universities taking part, along with grocery stores and entertainment venues.
Laura Moreno, an environmental scientist for the EPA’s Office of Pollution and Solid Waste, said the average college student produces about a half-pound of food waste per day, making universities one of the largest sources of food waste.
“If we were to reduce just 5 percent of food wasted by students at the three Arizona universities that are participating in the Food Recovery Challenge, it would save almost 784,000 pounds of food from reaching landfills each year,” Moreno said.
The three-year challenge requires universities to track and weigh the amount of food they use, how much is thrown out and how much of that is composted.
While universities have already been working to eliminate waste in dining halls, Joseph Abraham, director of sustainability at the University of Arizona, said joining the EPA’s program adds guidance and incentive.
“We were doing much of this already, but it was a good opportunity to tighten up what we’re doing and track it better by weighing things but also was a way to challenge us to do more,” Abraham said.
The UA’s program, Compost Cats, collects unused food and compostable material from campus and a number of businesses and takes it to a composting site at the College of Agriculture and then donates it to community gardens.
Arizona State University, which has a goal of eliminating all solid waste by 2015, has started its Food Recovery Challenge efforts in two dining halls on the Tempe campus.
Nick Brown, director of university sustainability practices, said that in many ways universities are leading their communities developing sustainable practices.
“If it works here, how much easier would it be in a lunchroom at Intel, where things are even more orderly, or an airport,” Brown said. “If we learn to do it effectively and efficiently here, it should be pretty easy for others.”
Since November, workers at Hassayampa and Barrett dining halls have been separating food and paper scraps for composting and recycling.
In 2013, ASU will expand the program to additional dining facilities and begin using green bins in which students will dispose of food scraps and compostable food-service items and blue bins for recyclable material.
Brown said including sustainable practices in universities will help to familiarize young people with them.
“We have 83,000 campus users, 71,000 students who are going to go out in the world after their time here, and these are life skills and habits we want them to take in the world as part of their college education,” he said.
- 7 common ways to get sued by your employees
- Why it might be time to upgrade your toilet
- Arizona teachers are building a better future by using technology in the classroom
- How to make summer reading fun for the whole family
- How to find relief for chronic joint pain
- Can the NBA Lottery save the Suns?
- Skip Urgent Care: 5 ailments you can treat with telemedicine
- Skin Cancer in Arizona: Stats, facts and new immunotherapy drugs making strides
- Distracted walking injuries end up not so funny
- Scary situations: 5 quick tips before you let a contractor in your home
- Four ways telemedicine is changing the health care industry
- 5 mistakes homeowners make in the spring
- Three rivers run through it: Exploring Arizona's waterways
- Smart home basics: things you need to know to get started
- 5 Surprising things causing back pain
- Arizona agriculture is a $17.1B industry
- Timeline: Arizona's roots in brewing history
- 5 reasons to love the D-backs this season
- Tips for taking your home entertainment experience to the backyard
- Tech-related injuries your parents never experienced
- Workers comp: Signs your co-worker could be a fraud
- Who's the real founder of America's pastime?
- Epidemic rising? What you need to know about Alzheimer's in Arizona
- 5 unforgettable Wooden Award winners
- Family and hard work are keys to success of modern dairy farmers
- Genetic testing could hold answers for colon cancer survival
- Cold beers and baseball: A beer lover's guide to Spring Training
- Telecommuting: 5 tips to make it work for employers and employees
- See how top CFOs feel about economic growth in the Valley
- Migraine myths that keep patients from effective treatments