September 25, 2020

Composting initiative launching Sept. 28, signaling another campus sustainability effort

Grace Maves (front), environmental science major, and (back, l-r) Mike Bernal, grounds department; Mark Covington, Georgia Street Urban Farm; Renee Wallace, FoodPlus Detroit; and Daryl Pierson, Office of Campus Sustainability.

Continuing to improve waste reduction initiatives at Wayne State University, a campus composting pilot is launching on Sept. 28 in collaboration with several community partners.

Composting is a managed, aerobic process in which microorganisms decompose organic materials such as leaves, grass, brush, wood, manure, food scraps, coffee grinds and more to yield a soil-like product called compost. Composting rebuilds healthy soil ecosystems and replenishes the organic matter and nutrient value of soil.

“This is an exciting moment because it takes WSU’s waste reduction efforts to the next level,” said Daryl Pierson, chief sustainability officer in the Office of Campus Sustainability. “Our compost pilot will help reduce our carbon footprint while reducing our climate impact related to our traditional waste stream.”

Collaborators for the compost pilot include the Office of Campus Sustainability, Aramark, and the university’s grounds department, as well as other campus partners that will support the effort, which collects food waste from pre-prepared produce at the Towers Café and yard waste from the university’s grounds department. These items are then taken to the Georgia Street Urban Farm for composting. The finished compost is then returned to the university for use by the grounds department.

"Wayne State Dining is continuously increasing our sustainability efforts to reduce our footprint on the planet,” said Alex McKenzie, Wayne State Dining resident district manager. “We are participating in this program because composting is a win-win for the environment, community and life cycle of food.”

Picking up the food waste from Towers Café is an important part of the pilot, and is carried out by the Compost Warriors, a group of student ambassadors from the Office of Campus Sustainability. The Compost Warriors are responsible for picking up the food waste from Towers Cafe and delivering it for composting at Georgia Street. Students are an important part of the pilot and have been involved in all aspects of its development and implementation.