Butte College has been honored with a statewide 2011 Higher Education Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Best Practices Award for its Food Composting Project.
The Food Composting project began this spring when Michael Duch, a college custodian, noticed that approximately 90 percent of the waste from the Food Service Department was organic matter consisting of leftover food and paper products. Knowing the college could become more sustainable in this area, Duch started what has become a very successful campus food composting program that diverts an estimated 300 pounds of organic material per month, 930 pounds a semester, away from the county landfill and reduces the Dining Services Staff workload since less frequent garbage pick-ups are now needed.
Understanding that to make the recycle program successful would take the participation of students, staff and faculty on campus, Duch, representing the Facilities Planning and Management Department, presented the Food Composting Project to many of the departments on campus including Dining Services as well as the Associated Students. As part of his weekly routine he began going from table to table in dining services to speak with individual students, staff and faculty about the program, a practice he continues today.
With strong partnerships in place with Dining Services and the Associated Students, “Recycle Michael,” as he is now known, Duch secured the ordering of compostable bags from Food Services. The cost for these bags is $200 per semester and the only cost incurred by the Food Composting Program. He then obtained eight small bins, made easy-to- read labels for them bins to ensure proper sorting, and placed them next to every dining service garbage can. Concurrently, he and the Associated Students fabricated stickers that read; “Is It Recyclable?” to get the campus thinking about their trash decisions, and placed them on top of every garbage can on campus.
Through the Food Composting Program, Duch created one more way for the Butte College community to take action in its commitment to sustainability.
The Best Practices award will be presented to Butte College during the 10th Annual California Higher Education Sustainability Conference, hosted by California State University, Long Beach in July.