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Zero Waste in Campus Dining

Central Michigan University (CMU)

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CMU hopes to achieve 90% diversion of trash from a landfill through responsible purchasing, reusing, recycling and composting. Our goal is to compost 450 tons of pre-consumer and post-consumer waste per year.

Activity 1

Conducted pilot program at two residential restaurants on campus in April 2013, we started a partnership with Future Organics, who hauls our food waste to a local compost facility.

Activity 2

CMU residential restaurants implemented a training program, providing information to identify the correct waste disposal procedures. Created signage for all waste receptacles such as landfill, compost and recyclables, to identify what products go in each receptacle.  To involve students we provided table tents describing our zero-waste initiative and signage asking students to scrape food waste into compost bins at the dish return. 

Activity 3

Removed the landfill dumpster (8 yards) and replaced with the Future Organics composting bins at loading docks.  We put all food waste, wax coated cardboard, including cartons that can’t be recycled and paper napkins into the compost bins. Future Organics picked up our compost once a week, on average 4,000 pounds per location. We significantly reduced our landfill waste. (In a previous pilot zero waste pilot, we reduced landfill waste from average 8 tons per month to ½ tons.)

Activity 4

We eliminated straws and switched from individually wrapped products to bulk products   to reduce the amount of plastic in our waste. 

Activity 5

Due to the success of our pilot, we will expand our zero waste program to all restaurants on campus Fall 2013. CMU will continue to monitor and evaluate the results of the program and makes changes as needed.