Grants and Collaboration Keep Waste Program Costs Low for Indiana University

GreenCycle soil is a blend of native farm loam and compost

by | Nov 1, 2018

The Campus Center at Indiana University has embarked upon a new initiative to keep pre-consumer food waste – that is, the food like melon rinds or vegetables that have gone bad before it ever gets to the consumer – from ending up in the landfill. By working with organizations to haul the food waste and turn it into compost, mulch and soil, the center has begun chipping away at the two tons of food waste it produces each month.

In 2016, the Office of Sustainability and Butler University co-applied and won a $50,000 Sustainable Campus Competition Grant from Kimberly-Clark for a program which would have the schools share the costs of hauling food waste to a composting facility. The grant money was used to build a food-waste reduction program at both universities. Funds covered the cost of being added to a food waste pickup route, new green bins for food waste, and a new dumpster.

Ray’s Trash Service picks up the waste and brings it to GreenCycle, which turns it into mulch and soil; the university then buys the soil for its campus gardens.

The collaboration with Butler has, as hoped, helped keep the cost of the program down, and two new schools – Ivy Tech and Marian University – have been added to the program to further share costs, according to the university. Indianapolis Public Schools has expressed interest in participating in the program, as well.

As awareness of food waste has advanced in recent years, colleges and universities have begun addressing the problem in various ways. The University of Texas’s Dallas campus recently launched a composting program which provides students with portable “compost caddies” and a training program on how to use them, for example.

And the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse used the school’s sustainability focused “Green Fund” to purchase a vermicomposter which uses worms to turn food scraps from its main dining hall into fertilizer, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.


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