One quarter of the waste generated at the U is considered organics and eligible for composting. Collecting organic material has the potential to greatly reduce the cost of waste recovery at the U of M Twin Cities. It costs the University $72 a ton for trash disposal, but only $25 a ton for Organics.
Hold a zero waste event! Our staff is more than happy to provide your group with organics collection barrels for events of all kinds. See our Events page for additional details or to submit a Zero Waste Event form.
For information about what items can and can't go in the Organics bin, check out this guide! Compost This, Trash That! Organics Recycling Guide
For more information about Organics Recycling in Hennepin County visit the Hennepin County Organics Website.
For more information about Organics Recycling in Ramsey County visit the Ramsey County Organic Waste Page.
The University of Minnesota has a long history as a leader in institutional waste reduction. Our recycling program has been considered the pioneer program of its kind, and has served as a template for other large organizations passionate about reducing their environmental footprint.
Despite national increases in waste, the UMN has steadily decreased the amount of waste bound for the incinerator. Last year, over 40% of the University's solid waste was recovered and recycled.
Organics Recycling is the process of collecting biodegradable organic material and turning it into compost. The program is primarily concerned with recovering food waste, which accounts for 25% of the U's total waste output. In our pilot programs, we have increased our scope to other compostable materials, such as animal waste and paper towels.
Acceptable Compostable Dining Ware
Choosing compostable dining ware can be difficult when many products are boasted as eco-friendly and plant based, but are not actually compostable. The Organics Recycling Program will only accept products that are certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute. U Market stocks some of these products and more products can be purchased from local stores or at online retailers like Amazon.
To aid you in your purchasing desicions, we have come up with some helpful links to the acceptable compostable products.
U Market - Search for 'compostable' in the search box to view the acceptable dining ware.
BPI's Product Catalog - Their catalog has a compiled list of all certified products and the links to the products' home pages.
We encourage you to call or email us with any questions you might have about acceptable materials.
The Four Phases of the Organics Recycling Program
Phase 1: Implement Organics Recycling in all residence dining halls, student unions, and small animal facilities.
Phase 2: Conversion of single-use disposables to compostables.
Phase 3: Extend Organics Recycling to all buildings on campus. In buildings participating in pilot programs, building residents are familiarized with the infrastructure associated with Organics Recycling, and how to utilize the bin efficiently and effectively. Generally, all paper towel waste from restrooms is collected, and added to food waste from break-room and kitchen compost bins. Building programs are customized according to needs of building residents, so compost bins may be placed in other areas as well.
Phase 4: Extend the Organics Recycling Program to area businesses and restaurants. This would prevent the on campus recycling from becoming contaminated, as well as increasing the waste recovery rate.
Buildings with Organics
We are excited to implement Organics Recycling in several locations across the UMN campus. Organic bins with green lids have been labeled and placed in kitchens and break rooms to collect napkins, food waste, and paper towels. Since the program's inception in 2007, several buildings have adopted building-wide Organics Recycling or paper towel collection. Eventually, we plan to house organics in every building across campus as we move closer to becoming a Zero Waste University.