Students torn between greener options at RRC

Single-use bottles and coffee cups are abundant on campus at the Roblin Centre. THE PROJECTOR/ Savannah Kelly

Single-use bottles and coffee cups are abundant on campus at the Roblin Centre. THE PROJECTOR/ Savannah Kelly

In 2015, RRC was named one of Canada’s greenest employers for the fifth year in a row. But students can’t seem to agree whether or not the college is doing enough to promote sustainability.

The college has two composting programs. One is focused on collecting pre-consumer waste from staff at the Notre Dame Campus. The other is at the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute, which collects pre- and post-consumer waste from the college’s culinary programs.

“They could probably have some bins in the cafeteria here and take them to the Paterson building,” said Ashley Kenny, a business administration student at the Roblin Centre. Paterson GlobalFoods Institute and the Roblin Centre are located one block from each other.

Kenny said she thinks students mostly do their part separating garbage from recycling and thinks it could work for composting too. But she said she would not be a supporter of a composting program at the Roblin Centre’s cafeteria.

“I’m not a fan of the smell,” she said.

The college uses compost on green spaces, according to RRC’s Red Goes Green blog.

“The Roblin Centre is the one building that doesn’t have a compost program right now,” said Sara MacArthur, the manager of sustainability initiatives for the college.

MacArthur said she doesn’t foresee a composting expansion for the Roblin Centre any time soon, but wouldn’t rule it out.

“It wouldn’t operationally make sense for us to add a fourth bin next to every single trio we have, and so any expanded compost program would start similar to how we have it at the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute,” MacArthur said. “It would start by collecting food waste in the cafeterias. Then I could envision expanding compost collection to other key areas.”

There’s another factor that comes into play, according to MacArthur.

“It’s always in our plans to expand our compost programs,” she said. “It’s a matter of having the financial resources to do so.”

Two other RRC students offered their views on the composting debate.

“If they have programs in place at other campuses, they should do it [here],” said Diogo Tozetto, a first-year RRC business administration student. “I’m not sure about the cost, but it would be interesting.”

Daniel Atkinson, a business information technology student at RRC, said he believes there are better ways than expanding compost programs to improve campus sustainability.

“How much food waste do we really throw away here?” questioned Atkinson.

He suggested introducing recyclable coffee cups and discount transit passes. He stays away from disposable coffee cups by often bringing his own mug.

The issue of coffee cups may be out of the college’s hands. Tim Hortons has franchises set up throughout RRC’s campuses, and they have control over the types of cups that are used.

But if a composting program was introduced, compostable cups could be used at other locations on campus to offset the number of cups going into the trash.