UCSB, an institution that for many years has made efforts to be environmentally conscious, is now hoping to further reduce its impact on the environment by launching a composting campaign.
Beginning this week, all waste-pre- and post-consumer-generated by the UCSB campus’s De La Guerra cafeteria will be compacted and transported to a facility in downtown Santa Barbara. The waste, consisting of mainly of dining common food waste, will be safely composted by MarBorg Industries, which will combine it with other green wastes from Santa Barbara in order to create fertilizer and soil.
Headed for the compost program will be mainly leftover food refuse and scraps from food preparation combined with other landscaping and groundskeeping plant trimmings, which account for a significant percentage of the total campus waste. Prior to this program, “Forty percent of the waste loaded into the compactor at De la Guerra Dinning Commons was food waste, which went along with everything else to the landfill,” explained Mark Rousseau, energy and environmental manager for UCSB’s Housing & Residential Services. The new program will therefore reduce the monthly trash pickup from the dinning commons and effectively save the university money, and if the percentage of De la Guerra waste that was compostable is anything to go on, UCSB may stand to save a lot of green.
This is not the first time UCSB has attempted a composting policy. Several years ago, Housing & Residential Services deposited almost 30,000 pounds of organic waste each month from campus dining commons in a storage area near Santa Ynez Apartments. The long-term effects of this policy were never discovered, as the project was abandoned due to the large amount of bugs and rodents attracted by the powerful odors created by the ever-growing pile of rotting food waste.
This time around, the waste is being dealt with in machinery that keeps composition within a cleaned, contained area. The goal of the new program will be both to create a loop of sustainable recycling between UCSB and growers in the area and to help the campus approach its goal of a creating zero waste. “UCSB housing has a long history of what has recently been called ‘sustainability,’ beginning in the early 1970s,” Rousseau said. “This is just our latest effort.”