Have you ever wondered where your leftover food—burger, salad, omelet—goes after you throw it in the trash at Commons? It travels a few exits down the I-10 to the San Timoteo Landfill. Here, it sits and waits. And Waits. And Waits.
San Timoteo is an anaerobic landfill, one lacking oxygen. This means that its contents—organic waste, food, and garden materials—will remain for decades, unable to decompose. The University of Arizona conducted a study that excavated over 21 landfills (anaerobic) across the United States and discovered hundreds of fully intact hot dogs, corn starch, and lettuce dating back to the 1960s.
This slow, oxygenless decomposition creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 28-36 times higher than carbon dioxide. Landfills, therefore, contribute to climate disruption, being responsible for approximately 2% of global emissions.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! If we compost our waste within an aerobic system instead, it would decompose quickly, and produce natural fertilizer rather than methane—a win-win. In light of this, I am calling on the the University of Redlands to invest in an industrial scale composter for use on its campus.
In April 2016, California’s AB 1826 took effect, mandating composting for any business that produces over two dumpsters worth of organic waste (food, green waste, food-contaminated paper) per week. This opens up a timely opportunity for the University to expand its composting system.
I’ve submitted a proposal to the University detailing the economic, environmental and equity benefits of investing in composting. I’ve presented this proposal to the Sustainability Council, and have sent it to trustees and administrators. I am now reaching out to the student body, along with professors, faculty, and alumni to urge the University to commit to an industrial composter. Composting is the law within California, so it is only a matter of time before we will be forced to comply. Let’s act now!
The proposal addresses:
- Benefits: environmental, economics, equity.
- Goals of composter.
- Different forms of composting.
- Other universities implementing composting programs.
To read the full proposal, click here.