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Sunday, April 02, 2023

UF Office of Sustainability launches composting station


UF has launched its first on-campus food compost station so students and faculty can dispose waste in an environmentally friendly way.

The UF Office of Sustainability started this new composting program, which consists of six colored trash cans at the Reitz Union, to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills, said Allison Vitt, outreach and communications coordinator for the Office of Sustainability.

The station is set up on the first floor across from Starbucks and Pollo Tropical on the first level in the Reitz. It includes receptacles for liquid, paper/cardboard, glass/plastic/metal, compost and landfill materials.

The biological decomposition initiative at UF started in 2014 but dividing the waste was done behind the scenes, Vitt said. This would be done in places like UF dining halls, where plates and cups were put on a conveyor belt and employees would decide which waste goes into compost.

“We’re interested to see what it looks like when an individual walks up and has to make that decision of what can and can't be composted, as opposed to an employee that's behind the scenes and has been trained on it,” Vitt said.

The office partnered with Business Services Division, Gator Dining Services and PepsiCo Recycling in designing this compost station titled “#GatorsBEATWaste Station.”

The university may put up more #GatorsBEATWaste stations in the future depending on the success of this pilot program, she said.

“If all goes well and people are really receptive to it and the compost is not being contaminated, then I think there's a really good possibility that we may try to expand this further on,” Vitt said.

During the first few weeks of this initiative, there will be sustainability volunteers near the station during the peak hours of 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. explaining which waste goes where, she said.

“The hope is that we can use this as a way to really try to refine our messaging and find a way to educate the general public and the campus community about composting,” Vitt said.

Christian Chiong, a 19-year-old material science engineering sophomore, spends the majority of his time studying in the Reitz.

Chiong said the Reitz is the perfect place to set up this station because there are so many current and future UF students disposing of trash in there daily.

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“I think that recycling and composting is important because it reduces the amount of waste and will improve the overall health of our earth,” he said.

Christian Chiong is using the compost trash can to dispose of his napkins while studying in the Reitz Union. He said the signs above the trash cans are helpful to decide which trash can to dispose of the waste. 

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