RRC compost program not college wide

Jessica Seburn, CONTRIBUTOR

Some students are still forced to throw their compostable waste in the trash regardless of RRC’s new composting program. THE PROJECTOR/ Jessica Seburn

At Red River College’s Roblin Centre, plastic bottles and papers are shoved into the bin marked “waste.” A student hovers a handful of cardboard over the bins, brow furrowed, trying to decide if cardboard is “paper” or “other recyclables.”

Meanwhile, at the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute, food scraps fill the green compost bins. Each individual disposal bin has lists of what can and cannot be placed in it. Nearly every container purchased at PGI has a large leaf emblem, signalling its ability to be composted.

But there are obstacles in the way of college-wide composting programs.

“Because there isn’t a cafeteria at the Princess campus, expanding the composting program there isn’t a priority right now,” said Whitney Crooks, RRC’s sustainability coordinator. “The reality is that it costs significantly more to compost than to send our waste to the landfill.”

Some students say they see the benefits of beginning a composting program immediately.

“I would definitely use (campus composting), especially if it was set up right beside the recycle sorting bins that already exist,” said Janet Adamana, a 28-year-old RRC graphic design student. “Anything that helps the environment these days is a step in the right direction.”

An environmental engineering class is developing new signage to better illustrate which waste goes into which bin.

“New bins will be rolled out, likely over the summer, that will accept batteries as well as pens, markers, and highlighters for recycling,” said Crooks.

Maureen Hanlon, The University of Winnipeg office assistant at the campus sustainability office, said the university has successfully provided a composting program since 2007.

“Our bins have three or four options: composting, two different kinds of recycling, and one for landfill garbage,” said Hanlon. “At the beginning of the year, we have had campus educators speak with students on how to use the bins.”

Currently, one of the challenges with composting is finding out how much is actually produced on campus. The struggle to accurately audit amounts of compost can prevent funding and the ability to introduce or increase composting plans.

For now, RRC students wanting to compost on campus will have to bring food scraps and compost-friendly containers to the PGI building or another composting depot.