Residents in Piñon Hall encouraged to compost in pilot program

Ashley Haberman

Freshman construction management student Jake Simmons composts his lunch container in Piñon Hall, a research hall for composting facilities for future residence halls.
Freshman construction management student Jake Simmons composts his lunch container in Piñon Hall, a research hall for composting facilities for future residence halls.

Colorado State University is looking to expand composting across campus, including in the residence halls. This semester, some residents Piñion Hall have been a part of the composting pilot in residence halls, where students are encouraged to try composting in their rooms.

Two types of composting collection bins have been placed in the rooms of one floor in Piñon Hall. One bin has a carbon filter in the lid that will help mediate the potential smell of the compostables, and the other is a bin with a normal lid. The bins are taken out with the students’ recycling and trash, and the compost is then sent off with the dining hall compost to “Oscar” at the CSU Foothills Campus.

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“The goal of the pilot is to see if students can effectively compost in their residence hall rooms without any major setbacks, if the extra access to compost helps divert waste from the landfill and if one style of collection bin is more effective than the other,” biology and journalism major Sarah Ross wrote in an email to the Collegian. “If successful, we are hoping to present our findings to Housing and Dining Services to see if we can expand composting to more floors throughout the campus and eventually to have it integrated campus-wide in every residence hall.”

The project will come to a close April 21, during Earth Week. But so far, according to those involved, it is running as planned.

“So far, the project is going really well,” Piñon Hall resident assistant Taylor Lynch said. “Since it is a pilot, there’s so much room for growth. But (since) we are encouraging students and not forcing them to compost, (the program) has really benefited.”

According to Lynch, the students have taken to the project and it has been effective.

“When residents visit from other floors, they make an effort to compost,” Lynch said. “So far, from what I’ve noticed, it’s been a general positive feedback.”

Lynch said there has been very little contamination, which has been one of the best things coming out of the program. 

“One thing we have been able to note that is positive is the lack of contaminations, and we know that from the materials going out to the composter,” said Tim Broderick, senior sustainability coordinator. “We were really concerned we were going to get a lot of contaminates, but we’ve actually been surprised. I got a call today that they have actually been putting cardboard in there. We want cardboard to be recycled first but students are thinking that far in advanced. We’ve been able to process everything they’ve been producing so far and we haven’t had to throw away a single container yet, which is amazing.”

According to Broderick, the future for composting on campus relies on the Piñon Hall pilot, and composting will continue in Pinon Hall after the pilot has been complete.

“We will keep the composting up in Pinon,” Broderick said. “This is our first look into composting in the residence halls at CSU, so this will give us a base line of information as to what works, what doesn’t, etc.”

The importance of the support system is what Lynch says has made the pilot possible.

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“It wouldn’t be possible without so many aspects working together, with such a big support system to initiate it, it wouldn’t be possible, recognizing how cool it is that students like it and want to be involved in it,” Lynch said. “Students’ involvement help it spread further across campus.”

Collegian Reporter Ashley Haberman can be reached at news@collegian.com.