Zero Waste Team pushing for front of house composting in LSC

Austin Fleskes

While back of house composting is already in effect for some of the restaurants in the Lory Student Center, members of Associated Students for Colorado State University and the Zero Waste Team are pushing for front of house composting to be initiated in the student center.

Back of house composting for the eight restaurants in the LSC that are owned by the LSC includes composting waste from the kitchens of those restaurants. Front of house composting would consist of getting composting bins in the common area of the LSC for the community to use. 

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Last July, back of house composting began in the LSC owned restaurts, explained Geoff Valdez, the assistant director for retail operations in the LSC.

Valdez said it took about three quarters of a year to get to that point, as there was a large education piece that came with back of house composting. 

Valdez said currently, front of house composting options are being explored for the LSC.

“We’re doing our homework, and seeing what other institutions have done,” Valdez said. “We’re looking at this logistically. We are trying to plan out the education piece so that there is less sorting to do front of house and so our custodial team and our LSC guests – everybody – is on the same page. We want to get it right from day one.” 

Haley Dallas, the deputy director of environmental affairs for ASCSU and a member of the CSU Zero Waste Team, stated front of house composting holds a very different set of difficulties than back of house.

“There’s so many more people that interact with the compost stream when you are doing front of house,” Dallas said

Dallas explained to implement front of house composting within the LSC, three things would have to happen: the creation of composting receptacles, implementing single use utensils that can be composted and educating the public. 

Dallas said the most difficult aspect of this three part system is educating students, faculty and guests on the front of house composting system. 

“Educating people on properly composting and properly recycling is so difficult,” Dallas said. 

Dallas added that beyond capturing the attention of students, one of the difficulties of composting is it can be difficult sometimes in deciphering exactly which materials can be composted, as there can be several nuances to every material, including some cardboard. 

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“There are all these weird little quirks to all of the various different materials we have, and so there is no uniform process for what materials need to go where,” Dallas said, adding some students may not know or may not be worried about composting. These two things make educating the public very difficult, Dallas said. 

Maggie Gilman, a member of the Zero Waste Team, explained she feels that front of house composting is in the best interest of CSU, as it aligns with the goals of the university. 

“(The University) has endorsed the city’s goal of moving to zero waste by 2030,” Gilman said. “Knowing why those goals exist is also important, and that is because our landfill is filling up.”

According to the City of Fort Collins, the Fort Collins Landfill is expected to reach capacity by 2025. 

“The university is an (agriculture) school and we produce a lot of this food and our lands in the country work really hard to make agriculture land,” Gilman said. “When there is a surplus of food and we throw it in the landfill, all that work was for nothing. But if we can use that food to turn back in accessible nutrients for plants, we can resupply our soil with nutrients and that’s a huge asset to a land grant, ag university.” 

Dallas and Gilman both added any students interested in composting and helping push for composting should contact the Zero Waste Team to get involved. 

 

There is, as we have seen this year, such an interest in the student body in having more waste diversion options.”– Haley Dallas, deputy director of environmental affairs for ASCSU

“If we look at the LSC, it is such a symbol of student involvement, student initiative and such a place for students. There is, as we have seen this year, such an interest in the student body in having more waste diversion options,” Dallas said.”I think it would be a really powerful method to allow students every day to participate in more forward thinking waste diversion methods like composting. 

Collegian reporter Austin Fleskes can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Austinfleskes07.