A quarter of the waste generated at the U is organic, and eligible for composting. The UMN spends $64/ton to dispose of solid waste whereas organics is only a mere $15/ton. Hold a zero waste event! Our staff is more than happy to provide your group with organic collection barrels for events of all kinds. Please see our Events page for additional details or to submit a zero waste event form.
For more information about organic recycling in Minneapolis and their drop-off locations view the Minneapolis Organics Recycling Guide.
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 essentially a fancy name for composting. 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 toweling.
Acceptable Compostable Dining Ware
Choosing compostable dining ware can be difficult when many products are boasted as eco-friendly and plant based. The Recycling Program will only accept products that are certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute. U Market stocks some of the 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 with any questions you might have about acceptable materials.
The Four Phases of the Organics Recycling Program
Phase 1 (Complete) - Implement Organics Recycling in all residence halls, student unions, and small animal facilities.
Phase 2 (90% Complete) - Conversion of single-use disposables to compostables.
Phase 3 (In Progress) - 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 composting 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 its inception in 2007, several buildings have adopted building-wide organics recycling or paper towel collection.
Building-wide organic collections: Humphrey, College of Veterinary Medicine, Continuing Education and Conference Center, Child Development, Learning and Environmental Sciences.
Paper towel collection: Moos, Weaver-Densford, Hanson, Pattee, Smith, and Carlson.
Eventually, we plan to house organics in every building across campus as we move closer to a zero waste university.