This semester, the Food Services Department at Southern decided to begin composting its leftover food waste. Partnering with NewTerra Compost, Southern is now able to better reduce food waste and its overall impact on the environment.
Teddy Kyriakidis, the director of Food Services, explained that the Food Services Department has been wanting to reduce its environmental impact for a while, but was at a loss of where to start.
“Until recently, there has not been an alternative waste system to the one that the campus uses,” Kyriakidis said. “A new company, NewTerra Compost, has changed that.”
Composting has two main benefits, according to Kyriakidis. First, it reduces the impact on local landfills. When food and other compostable materials are kept out of landfills, the overall environmental impact of those landfills goes down. Second, composting turns the reusable waste into fertilized soil, decreasing the amount of resources needed to produce that soil by other means.
Most organic waste and materials are able to be turned into compost, and according to NewTerra’s website, the average American generates around 283 pounds of food waste each year. Uneaten food is also the largest component of municipal solid waste, taking up almost 25% of the nation’s landfills.
NewTerra is able to track the weight of the food waste that is composted and has already rerouted over 216 pounds of waste out of the landfills in just the first week of partnering with Southern’s cafe. Before then, there was no way to track how much waste was actually generated by the campus.
“I’m glad they’re finally making some changes,” said Allie Carbaugh, senior education major. “Seeing so much food get wasted from what people don’t [or] can’t eat is so frustrating. So the fact that the cafe is finally making more responsible choices with their food waste gives me hope for future changes.”
Kyriakidis said the transition has been smooth because of the partnership with NewTerra.
“We’ve started this program at the end of the semester so that we can work out any challenges before expanding on it,” Kyriakidis said. “NewTerra has been wonderful to work with and we have not had any issues so far. I do not see any challenges as we continue this program.”