Compost and Waste Diversion

As required by AB 1826, Harvey Mudd College must properly dispose of all organic waste (including food waste and green waste). In collaboration with Facilities & Maintenance and Dining Services, the Hixon Center spearheaded and helped oversee the implementation of a campus-wide compost program. – part of a larger effort to improve waste diversion from landfills. Early estimates indicate that approximately a third of campus food waste is composted on campus, while the remainder is hauled away by the City of Claremont (in contract with Burrtec).

Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons Compost Program

Compost waste sorting signs

These signs have been installed in the Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons to instruct students to sort their waste before returning their dishes and utensils.

In November 2015 and consequently in April 2016, the Hixon Center conducted campus waste audits with support from students and campus staff. The results of the audit indicated that over 70% of campus waste (by weight) could be diverted from landfill – including recyclable material and compost. The results indicated that a high majority of the campus’ food waste is produced in the Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons and its catering services.

During summer 2017, F&M and Dining Services installed a dehydrating machine in the kitchen space of Hoch-Shanahan, which can process nearly 200 lbs. a day of food waste (including soiled napkins). A pre-consumer and post-consumer sorting program was implemented so that dining hall workers and customers alike could sort food waste apart from landfill waste and recyclables. Accompanying signs and bins were installed in the kitchen spaces and at the dish return station.

Food waste produced by dining hall operations that is not composted on-site is hauled off by the City of Claremont and taken to the Burrtec organic waste facility in Fontana, California.

Campus Compost and Waste Sorting

Until we can process all food waste on campus, Harvey Mudd College has entered an agreement with the City of Claremont to have its food waste picked up alongside its waste and recycling. Nearly 80 new recycling and waste receptacles with labels were installed on campus in spring 2018, as were over 50 table-top compost bins in kitchens and break rooms in all academic, administrative and residential buildings, to improve waste sorting across facilities. Large compost bins provided by the City have been placed outside of residential spaces. Students are responsible for taking the compost from their table-top bins in the residence halls to external bins.

Next Steps

The Hixon Center is working with Facilities & Maintenance and Dining Services to monitor and determine our output in terms of organics, recyclables, and landfill waste. We aim to utilize these measurements for greenhouse gas emissions inventories, sustainability reporting, and climate action planning – as well as for ‘campus as a living laboratory’-driven projects housed within Facilities & Maintenance and academic departments. Our goal is to have a comprehensive picture of the campus’ waste output on different time scales by the end of the 2018-19 academic year.