I see bins of green

Composting at SAIT

A SAIT culinary student dumps organic waste into a green compost bin. (Photo by Katerina Kotsaftis)

A SAIT culinary student dumps organic waste into a green compost bin. (Photo by Katerina Kotsaftis)

Reducing the amount of trash sent to landfills is a priority for SAIT’s facilities department. They have now begun the process of rolling out a new waste strategy.

“My ultimate goal would be to get to an 80 per cent diversion rate,” said Delisa Daniel, manager of operations and landlord of facilities management.

“We’re on our way to it.” 

Daniel, who has worked at SAIT for 19 years, took over the position in March 2014, and has seen significant improvement in waste reduction.

“Our initial audit showed a rate of 22 per cent, and now it ranges from 40 to 60,” said Daniel.

Part of this waste reduction can be attributed to the rolling out of green compost bins across campus. 

To Daniel, reducing what is sent to landfills boils down to having appropriate resources available.

“It’s a matter of having the right bins in the right place, and having them properly marked,” said Daniel. 

“Students need to know that there’s a place for them to dump their leftover spaghetti, for example.” 

SAIT has four streams for disposing of waste material: mixed recycling, deposits, garbage and most recently, organic.

These streams are conveniently colour coded and ensure that fewer products leave the school in the form of garbage. 

“The streams are there. It’s a matter of making sure they’re available and accessible,” said Daniel. 

SAIT’s organic waste is currently processed through Waste Management, as the City of Calgary does not have a system in place for business waste. 

Still, the city is aware of the need for broader waste-reduction strategies and is currently piloting a neighbourhood green cart program that is set to roll out by mid-2017.

As of Oct. 4, the city announced that paper coffee cups can be recycled along with other mixed paper products. 

According to Daniel, it’s important that people be mindful of using the correct receptacles when throwing out their trash. 

“We have to watch for materials. Compostable plates are organic for example, but not Styrofoam,” said Daniel. 

Sorting through waste material is a tedious process, and while SAIT’s custodial staff make an effort to look at what goes where, care should be taken to ensure that compost is not tainted by stray contaminants. 

Students should be aware that leftover food, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg cartons and other biodegradable materials can be composted. 

Still, Daniel believes that students are conscious of waste, and care about where their trash goes. 

“I think students today have a better understanding than, say, their parents did,” said Daniel.

Organic waste bins are present in buildings throughout campus. They are used widely by food vendors and culinary programs and are present on more than 200 countertops around campus offices.

Daniel encourages students to look around and take note of where the nearest green bins are located in the spaces they frequent most. 

“They’re everywhere: Johnson Cobbs, Stan Grad, the Senator Burns building, the Campus Centre, food courts and more,” said Daniel. 

To her, making an effort to compost is an effective way to reduce landfill waste and ensure that organic products have the necessary oxygen needed to decompose.

“It’s making sure that food waste is not really waste,” said Daniel.

“We have a lot of waste. Compost keeps it from accumulating and gives organic waste the opportunity to break down properly.”

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