N.C. State will soon become one of the few universities in the country to have on-campus pizza-box composting facilities available for all students to use.
N.C. State Waste Reduction and Recycling implemented the Pizza Box Composting Project. The project seeks to decrease compostable waste on campus and encourages students to pay more attention to the importance of composting.
University Housing alone purchased 2,588 pizzas for its programs in the 2013-2014 school year, according to Lauren McKinnis, outreach coordinator for Waste Reduction and Recycling. These boxes, plus additional boxes from other campus organizations and personal purchases, will be turned into nutrient-rich soil through composting.
Created from spare dumpsters decorated with the project logo, the new composting centers will be located behind Bragaw and Metcalf/Bowen Residence Halls and are set to begin operation the first week of March.
After the pizza boxes make it to the dumpsters, they will be taken to the same place as all dining hall food waste: Brooks Contractor, a composting facility about 40 miles away from the University, McKinnis said.
McKinnis said the idea came about because of student feedback from focus groups to begin composting on campus.
“We do composting on campus,” McKinnis said. “It’s just behind the scenes in the dining halls so a lot of students don’t get to do the composting themselves.”
Aside from being able to compost their personal-pizza boxes on campus, McKinnis said students are also involved with this project by assisting with design and raising awareness for the program.
“We’re having a couple students from the Eco-Village help us paint, and then after these get implemented there will be different student groups helping us with programming,” McKinnis said.
McKinnis said an example of student involvement with programming may include organizing informational pizza parties to teach other students where these dumpsters are and what can be composted.
“The students are really going to be in charge of getting the word out and making sure that people know this is now available to them,” McKinnis said.
According to McKinnis, there are only one or two other universities in the country that have tried composting programs such as this.
“The ones that did try this only did it for a few weeks span,” McKinnis said. “It wasn’t something ongoing.”
McKinnis said she definitely sees composting at N.C. State going further than this project.
“This is a good test to see if we can start small with the pizza boxes,” McKinnis said. “We really want to take a look to see what contaminants end up in the dumpsters and see if this can grow larger.”
Contaminants in the compost come from putting improper items in the bins, such as anything made of plastic, McKinnis said.
Mohamed Selim, a first-year engineering student, said he believes the program is necessary.
“We shouldn’t throw them away, but reuse them if we can somehow for the sake of the environment,” Selim said.
Selim said he doesn’t want to see composting on campus stop here.
“In order to push forward you always have to be thinking about what to do next,” Selim said.
Graham Roper, a first-year engineering student, said he is excited about potentially seeing more composting happen at N.C. State.
“This is a good starting point,” Roper said. “I don’t really know exactly what direction to take it in next. Hopefully we can eventually see composting bins with all of the recycling and trash bins on campus.”