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Composting at Columbia

Historically, back-of-house (kitchen) and front-of-house food waste has been composted more and more in dining halls at Columbia. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and NYC budget cuts to composting[1][2], the dining halls did not compost any waste in Fall 2020 or Spring 2021. On April 22nd, 2021, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that compost collection will restart in October 2021 [3]. What this means for Columbia's compost situation is unclear (as of June 2021).

Pre-pandemic, the Dining Halls at Columbia (John Jay Dining Hall and Ferris Booth Commons ) have been composting all waste. Ferris used compostable utensils and plates/bowls, and John Jay used reusable utensils and plates/bowls, which were washed in the dishwashers at John Jay. These Dining Halls have been partnered with the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and the private carting company Action Carting.

Students were also able to compost food scraps at the Columbia Greenmarket on 116th and Broadway every Thursday and Sunday.

The Rocket

The Rocket was a composting machine installed in Ruggles Hall in 2012 [4]. It has since been moved elsewhere.

Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic

Composting was cut from the NYC budget. DSNY and Action Carting stopped accepting compost. Additionally, the Greenmarket composting was shut down. These effects are described more in this Spec article [5].

EcoReps Involvement

EcoReps supports students that do not reside on campus and want to compost by providing resources and information about composting opportunities all over the city. In the past, EcoReps has provided small metal compost bins to students to use for the year. In summer and fall 2020 and spring 2021, EcoReps advocated/is advocating for composting to return to campus, and EcoReps has provided resources to students on where to compost, such as this list from Reclaimed Organics. EcoReps also provides general education on composting, such as what can be composted and how to compost.

External Links

Columbia EcoReps

Columbia Dining

GrowNYC Composting

New York City Department of Sanitation Compost