Sustainability Program provides opportunity to compost food waste


Antonio Pequeño

The composting program will soon be available in the USU Dining Hall.

Adrianna Adame, News Editor

CSUSM Sustainability Program announced their plan to launch their upcoming compost program in the USU Dining Hall in January.

Sustainability is collaborating with The Compost Company, a local Encinitas business owned and operated by Naomi Wentworth, EDCO, CSUSM’s current waste hauler and the College of Business Administration (CoBA).

“The partnership with The Compost Company, the company that we’re partnering with, is a woman-owned startup business. [It] actually came through the academic side… it was a request from the Dean of CoBA, Dean Hamerly, to see if we can marry academic learning with our sustainability goals,” said Juliana Goodlaw-Morris, CSUSM’s Sustainability Manager.

The CSUSM Sustainability Program has been working on limiting the waste that is produced on campus through Journey to Zero Waste, a part of Sustainability’s master plan, that strives to eliminate nearly all of CSUSM’s waste by 2025. Composting is a vital part of Sustainability’s plan to reach zero waste.

“The zero waste by 2025 goal is this idea that CSUSM can get to almost… 95 percent of our waste not going into the landfill,” said Goodlaw-Morris, “For us, the very large percentage of what we throw into the garbage right now that goes to the landfill is food waste and all the food waste products – the silverware, the plates and the napkins.”

Currently, CSUSM composts pre-consumer food waste, which are non-cooked foods, such as fruit and vegetables. Leftover coffee grounds have also been made compostable within the last few years.

Sustainability’s upcoming compost program is going to be able to compost post-consumer food waste, which is the majority of the waste that is produced on campus. Post-consumer food waste includes all cooked foods, such as what is served at the various Sodexo-owned restaurants in the USU Dining Hall and CSUSM’s Dining Services.

At the moment, all post-consumer waste and leftovers from the various USU establishments are thrown out at the end of the day. “[Composting] post-consumer is where we think we are going to make the biggest impact on helping us get to zero waste,” said Goodlaw-Morris.

EDCO hauls approximately 600 to 700 pounds of pre-consumer food waste out of CSUSM every week, said Goodlaw-Morris. At the moment, there is no available data for how much post-consumer food waste is hauled away each week. EDCO takes the post-consumer food waste to a landfill.

Sustainability’s composting program is a pilot project under a three-year contract with The Compost Company. According to Goodlaw-Morris, within the next few weeks, the project will take place inside USU Dining. Two large, green, food-only composting containers that’ll take pre-consumer and post-consumer food waste will reside inside the building.

According to Goodlaw-Morris, The Compost Company is providing its services for free during the three-year contract. “The only cost that it had to us was buying the handful of bins that we bought for the USU and the educational cost that might ensue,” said Goodlaw-Morris.

Stephanie Hebert, the Recycling and Sustainability Coordinator, said that to prevent pests, custodial staff will be emptying out the containers two or three times a day.

“What will happen is that the third-party company [The Compost Company] we are working with are going to pick it up from the dock behind the USU and they’re going to take it over the composter that’s located here on campus and so that’s where they’re going to turn the food waste into compost and then some of that compost…we’ll use some of it here on campus,” said Hebert.

The Compost Company will then keep the rest of the compost.

“Our goal in the next one to two years, we will be expanding composting across the whole campus, and housing will have it and then all the buildings, spaces, it wouldn’t just be in the USU,” said Goodlaw-Morris.

The composting program will also allow senior business experience and interns to work with Wentworth. By fall semester, The Compost Company will be listed as an option in the internship database.

Goodlaw-Morris also said that students who want to get involved with composting on campus can contact her for job employment opportunities, internships for class credit or to just reach out to learn more. For further information: [email protected] or https://