34 BUILDINGS 07.15
will want someone representing each of your major
departments. These may include maintenance/engineer-
ing, housekeeping, mailroom, purchasing, product line,
operations, and management.
To fully understand the creation of waste in your
building, conduct a walkthrough. Establish where materials are received and follow their lifecycle all the way
through to the disposal location. Note what sort of waste
is generated from receiving areas, stockrooms, dining
areas, and kitchens.
are not removed on a regular basis. In most cases, two
Document Your Recycling Efforts
or three days is the longest you will want to leave food
waste at your facility waiting for transport.
When starting a composting program, you will be most
successful if you start with an audit of your garbage. Often
your waste hauler can perform this service for you through
visual analysis and estimation at their facility, though this
is not as accurate as completing a full audit.
With a full audit, start by assembling your team. You
Trayless dining and collection for kitchen scraps – Wartburg
College in Waverly, IA, ensures
students are learning about
sustainability outside of the classroom. During the 2013-2014 school
year, the private college collected over 13,000 pounds of pre-con-
sumer food waste, says Anne Duncan, environmental sustainability
The campus offers one all-you-care-to-eat dining center, three
eateries, and a catering business. With 1,400 students on meal plans,
Dining Services produces up to 400 breakfasts, 900 lunches, and
800 dinners each weekday. The cafeteria is also open on weekends
and serves meals during the summer for camps and conferences.
Emphasis is placed on recovering food at the point of origin –
kitchen preparation. Trimmings from fruits and vegetables, coffee
grinds, and egg shells are set aside in sturdy totes ranging from 5 to
20 gallons. These are collected three times a week and delivered to
the city’s composting facility. To measure this organic waste stream,
workers simply record the weight of each bin ready for pick up,
Back in 2008, the college eliminated trays in its dining rooms. The
goal was to combat food waste by encouraging students to make
healthier choices about meal portions. This has led to a decrease in
partially eaten leftovers thrown in the trash, as well as associated savings from reduced water and cleaning chemicals in the dish room.
In addition to documenting its recycling efforts, Wartburg was
rated at the Gold Level under the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment
& Rating System (STARS). Offered by AASHE (the Association for the
Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education), the program is “a
self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their
sustainability performance.” Wartburg’s composting protocol earned
points under the Waste Minimization and Diversion categories.
Due to its rural setting, one of the barriers that Wartburg faces is
a lack of cost-competitive composting services. While the city can
accommodate the college’s volume of pre-consumer food waste
( 13,000 pounds), there isn’t a transportation infrastructure in place to
collect post-consumer scraps. If this option existed, Wartburg would
be able to capture the 160,000 pounds of total food waste from its
sole dining center each year, Duncan notes, in addition to waste at its
Until an institutional-level solution is identified, the college is focusing on efficiencies in its back-of-house operations. “This includes menu
management, production service records, forecasting based on past
recorded use, recipes that are standardized to the serving, and recording leftover food in order to improve forecasting the next time around.
This new method is specifically designed to decrease food waste by
controlling inventory, ordering, production, and leftovers. As a direct
result of better forecasting and less waste, actual dollars spent on food
last year were less than the previous year,” explains Margaret Empie,
assistant vice president for Dining and Retail Services.
Another challenge is student turnover – there’s always a new batch of
workers that need to be trained to ensure the program remains on target.
“Dining Services hires nearly 300 students who are also the clien-
tele. Not many business have their customers in the kitchens with
them,” Empie says. “This is a rare opportunity to have students see
and learn these transferrable sustainability practices first-hand.”
Duncan encourages other building owners to embrace the sometimes experimental path to composting and food recovery. Her most
important tip: “Make good partnerships. Don’t just dictate changes,
particularly to a department you may not work in. Collaborate with
colleagues who will invest in food waste reduction so you have a win-win for everyone.”
HIGH MARKS FOR COMPOSTING AT
WARTBURG COLLEGE COLLECTED over 13,000 pounds of
pre-consumer food waste in the 2013-2014 school year.
BY JENNIE MORTON