MARIETTA - Before Marietta College's dining service started its composting initiative in January, Rumpke picked up three Dumpsters a week from behind Gilman Dining Hall.
"But now they only do it two times a week," said Zena Maggitti, director of 5th Street Dining.
Sorting food and paper waste so it is used for composting rather than ending up with the rest of the trash is one of multiple green initiatives the dining service, called 5th Street Dining and run by Chartwells, has undertaken in 2012.
Photo by Evan Bevins
Gilman Dining Hall chef supervisor Jeremy Brandjes demonstrates how Chartwells food service personnel at Marietta College sort food for composting.
Once a week, organic food waste-hauler Future Organics Inc. picks up the collected compost material, which can include virtually any food product as well as paper products that do not contain wax. The decomposing material is then reused as a supplement for plant life.
The goal is to divert 5.5 cubic yards of waste a week and an estimated 195 cubic yards a year, according to a release from Chartwells. In the long term, the company would like to see the composted material returned to the college for use on campus.
Workers sort the food and paper waste from plates as students turn them in, something that has required change for both the employees and the diners.
"They used to dump it straight into the trash can and then give us their clean plates," said Maggitti.
Kitchen workers at Gilman Dining Hall fill three 33-gallon trash cans per shift with compost material. And Maggitti said they are considering putting those cans out in the student area so diners can dump the material themselves.
"Students nowadays are very conscientious of being green," she said.
Also in January, 5th Street Dining started offering reusable mugs for sale at the Chlapaty Cafe in an effort to cut down on waste.
When the dining services brought back to-go options in the fall, they went through about 1,000 styrofoam containers a week. To reduce that statistic, last week they debuted green, reusable, to-go containers, which students can take with them then drop off at any dining services location. The container will be cleaned and put back into circulation.
Sophomore Katie Anderson of Northville, Mich., is among 150 students who have signed up for that program.
"I love it," she said. "I just think that we waste a lot of resources in this world and if we have the resources to reuse it, then we should."
Maggitti said eventually she would like to see styrofoam no longer used by dining services.
The latest initiatives follow a number of green and healthy steps by Chartwells at the college, including the elimination of trays to discourage students from taking more than they will eat and using cage-free eggs, sustainable seafood and zero trans-fat oils.