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Waste Not

Saving landfill space while saving College money.

Campus facility where so far, 46 percent of campus waste becomes organic fertilizer.

Convocation in the fall was a “zero waste” function, meaning virtually no garbage entered the waste stream from the food service. The dishes, cups, and utensils were made of cornstarch, which biodegrades quickly in landfills. The napkins were made out of recycled paper. All of that, plus all of the food, was composted.

Compostable tableware has been available to anyone using the College’s catering service since 2004, and Ithaca College Dining Services is trying to use the “green stuff” as often as possible as well.

That’s the good news. The downside, says Jeffrey Scott, general manager of dining services, is that the College’s compost facility (ICQ 2000/3) is nearing capacity, which means that an additional site may be needed to keep up with the volume of compostable items.

The College’s report on its sustainability initiative, “Exploring Positive Growth,” noted that during the 2004–5 academic year, 46 percent of the waste generated on campus was recycled or composted. In all, the College saved $43,000 in landfill expenses and made a $7,000 profit from selling recycled materials.

The switch to compostable serviceware buffet-style dining, which results in students putting more food on their plates than they can eat. And there will be an organic food station in one of the dining halls, similar to the Terraces’ Kosher Kitchen and Campus Center’s vegan section.

“To cater that event we were challenged, by design, to make it as sustainable as possible,” says Scott. “We had the serviceware shipped from California. Our service had to complement the theme.” Since then, Dining Services has found local purveyors to provide the compostable products.

“We’re making progress,” says Scott. The progress is being recognized off campus as well: In the fall the Society for College and University Planning recognized IC as a leader among campuses working to infuse sustainability throughout their curricula. 

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