Composting at USGBC
Here at USGBC headquarters we have three streams for waste:
- Waste (landfill)
- Recyclable materials
- Compostable materials
After a recent quarterly waste audit, we discovered that our diversion rate for compost dropped from previous quarters. This indicated that staff and guests were placing materials in the waste stream that should actually go in the compost stream.
This is an easy error because there's a lot of confusion about what is actually compostable. It used to be that the rule for composting was, "If it grows, it goes."
This is still accurate, but we've been able to open up the scope of what’s acceptable in the compost stream, and we're now able to include some other things as well. This new compost capacity includes meat, dairy, paper towels, napkins and tissues.
Here are some of the steps we're taking around the office to increase our diversion rate and improve education about what the compost stream can accept.
- We are increasing signage with photos at all of trash/recycling/compost bins (in the kitchen) to increase awareness in an effort to better educate staff and guests about what materials go into each bin.
- We are ensuring sufficient trash, recycling, and composting bins with clear signage, for guests of onsite conferences, large meetings, events, or trainings.
- We are working on a plan to educate meeting attendees, at the beginning of each meeting, about our composting and recycling program.
What's ok to compost?
Are you confused about what you can compost? Here's a quick reminder.
- Fruits, veggies, food scraps
- Meat and dairy
- Paper and mesh tea bags
- Soiled paper towels, napkins and tissues
- Compostable cups and crush compostable paper cups
- Wooden stir sticks for coffee/tea
Last minute tips
Food is often left on plates and put into the dishwasher which causes the dishwashers to break. If we put scraps into the compost bin, we can minimize maintenance and repairs on our dishwashers and increase our composting capacity.
At USGBC we love our coffee, and most days our compostable coffee cups end up in the trash bins. If you make sure to place your compostable coffee cup into the compost bin, it's an easy way to bump up our composting score on the LEED Dynamic Plaque and lessen what goes to landfill.
Have any thoughts or questions? Email Melanie, our manager of facilities.