University of Vermont

Recycling & Waste Management

office composting at UVM

Office Organics Collection Program

March 25, 2016 UPDATE

After a brief hiccup and hiatus with our contracted collection program, UVM recycling is pleased to announce the office organics collection program is up and running again.

We have invested in our own bike trailer, and have hired a student employee to handle the weekly pickup at about 45 office locations around campus.

How the Program Works

Offices receive a small food scraps bag each week to keep in their kitchen lunchroom. Once per week, the student employee picks up the bag and replaces it with an empty one, and "cycles" the food scraps to a central collection point on campus.  From there, a larger truck transports the material, along with other compostables from campus, the remaining 5 miles to Green Mountain Compost in Williston.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Why was the program implemented?

UVM already collects 9 tons of food waste per week from campus dining hall locations for composting.  The collection system --which involves large compost carts picked up by a truck each day-- is not well suited for office buildings. Students initially suggested using a bicycle-based collection service, and. UVM Recycling agreed to test pilot the program.The goal of the program is to divert additional food waste from landfill disposal, in a cost-effective and sustainable manner.

How were offices selected to participate?

In April 2011, an on-line survey was sent out to all staff and departments on campus. About sixty staff members responded and expressed interest in participating. The planning team reviewed responses and conducted in-person visits to each potential site. Offices were selected based on this criteria:  building location, access to kitchenette,  office occupant interest, number of people who use the kitchenette on a regular basis, and types and quantity of food waste generated.. 

Who supplies the bags? What are they made of?

UVM Recycling purchases special compostable bags.from Bag-to-Earth. These are small and sturdy and will stand up on their own on a kitchen counterrtop. The bags are lined with a leak-proof cellulose liner.

When are the full bags picked up?

Our student employee will do a once per week collection on either Wednesday morning or Friday afternoon. All loads will be weighed to track progress.

What if the bag gets filled up prior to the regular collection day?

We think twice per week pickup will be sufficient for most offices. However, if the bag fills up sooner, offices may choose to place it in their freezer or refrigerator until the next regularly scheduled pickup day.  Extra bags can be provided to offices who generate more than average food waste.

Will there be odors? 

Previous tests with the bag in several UVM offices have shown there are no problems with odors. The bag is breathable which allows air to circulate and prevents the organic material from turning "anaerobic" (meaning: lacking oxygen) which is typically what causes foul odors in tightly sealed plastic pails. Offices are also being provided with a "bag clip" to help close the top of the bag between uses.

Who do I contact with questions about pickup day, or if a pickup was missed? 

Phone UVM Recycling at 656-5731 or Email the UVM Recycling office recycle@uvm.edu right away if there are concerns about a missed pickup. Be sure to specify your office location and building.

Can other offices participate in the program?

At this time, UVM Recycling is only offering this collection service to the specific offices which were selected. Depending on location, other offices may be added. Please contact UVM Recycling if you are interested. The program is continually being evaluated in terms of cost, efficiency and interest prior to any expansion.

Last modified March 25 2016 03:33 PM