15,200 coffee cups turned into compost at UC!

Single use cups going into the HotRot facility

The Sustainability Office’s blue bin trial for coffee cup collection is going well. Between May and September, approximately 15,200 cups were diverted from landfill and turned into compost!! On the back of this, the numbers of blue bins through the campus will shortly be increased from the original four to nine.

As you may know, we are currently in Phase II of a campus wide coffee composting trial, to see if we can divert more waste from landfill by composting take-away coffee cups instead (take-away coffee cups can no longer be recycled L). All the cups collected in the blue waste bins are taken off-site for composting.

Some FAQs on the cup composting trial:

Please remember, the blue bins are for empty cups only (no lids!) and not for any other items!

If the cups are being composted, why can’t I put organic waste in the blue bins? At this stage in our trial, the contents of the blue bins are all being sorted by hand by a valiant student. This is so we can ensure quality control and provide accurate reporting. Sometimes the material sits around for a while before being handled, and it is not particularly pleasant to deal with rotting food. Only cups!

Can I put other compostable packaging materials in the blue bins? Again, we are in a trial phase with this project at the moment, and we are focussing on a specific problem we have with takeaway coffee cups: that they can no longer be recycled. We need to keep the trial manageable at this stage to ensure its success.

Why not just use the green bins? The material that goes into the green bins is taken to a different composting facility that cannot handle coffee cups. Our coffee cup waste goes to the Selwyn District Council’s HotRot facility by Rolleston where they are put through a mechanical composting system with other compostable waste products and turned into compost for your garden.

What are the future plans for this project? We have implemented this blue bin in order to create the possibility of treating more of our waste as an environmental resource rather than a contaminant. We want to phase out certain kinds of packaging from campus (like plastic plates, sushi containers, plastic cups etc), but first we need to make it possible for compostable options to actually be composted. In time, compostable plates, cutlery and other food containers will all be able to be composted using the blue bins.


More exciting composting news: 20151021_100408

The UCSA has their first ever batch of compost out of “Cloey”, their automated composting unit (see the pic, it is the white box :-)). This compost has been generated out of food waste from the UCSA production kitchens, and will be reurned to the soil via the UC community gardens, and used to grow more food for students! We are so excited. Well done, guys.

By Matt Morris – UC Sustainability Office

For more info on the composting trial, check out our earlier blogs about it: http://wp.me/p4A3Y6-8G or http://wp.me/p4A3Y6-6K



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