What is Composting & Why Do We Compost?

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

The university is committed to diverting as much waste as possible from the landfill, with a goal of 75% diversion by 2025. Separating our organic waste from the rest of our waste streams, to be composted, is a key component of our diversion success. When organic waste breaks down in the landfill, an anaerobic (without oxygen) environment, it will release a variety of greenhouse gasses. The most notable of these gasses is methane. 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 decomposition process that mimics what would happen in nature. 

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. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that organic waste accounts for 25%-35% of landfilled waste in the United States. As a result, also per the EPA, that makes landfills one of the top 3 emitters of methane in the country. Our campus compost collections help us mitigate our contributions to the landfill and the associated greenhouse gasses.

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 the campus community interacts with on a daily basis. The Rethink Waste team will continue to enhance and refine our recycling and composting systems and education as we continue working towards our goal to divert 75% of our waste from the landfill.

Our organic waste hauling agreement allows us to reclaim some of our processed compost back on campus, which can be used in Abby’s Garden or on campus grounds for landscaping. This will help us reduce the use of chemical fertilizer around campus, which is an environmental and financial benefit. 

Thank you to all of our campus partners who have helped make post-consumer composting on campus a success! Let’s all keep working to make this part of the University of Richmond culture.