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Composting at UBC : an agriculture practice that benefits the whole community Barclay, Mairin; Cockburn, Shannon; Hsu, Amy; Lee, Chi Wai; Reichmuth, Kyla; Tam, Gary; Young, Mandy Apr 3, 2002

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UBC Social Ecological Economic Development Studies (SEEDS) Student Report       Composting at UBC: An Agriculture Practice that Benefits the Whole Community Mairin Barclay, Shannon Cockburn, Amy Hsu, Chi Wai Lee, Kyla Reichmuth, Gary Tam, Mandy Young  University of British Columbia AGSC 450 April 3, 2002           Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report”.    Co mpo sti ng at UBC: An  Agri cultu re Pra ctice that Ben efits  the Who le Co mmun i ty      Group 6 AgS c 450 Mairin Ba rcla y J ill Condra and Shannon Cockburn Alejandro Roj as Am y Hsu TA: Anthon y Burn ett i Chi Wai Lee April 3, 2002 Kyla Rei chmut h Gar y Tam Mand y Youn g        Abstract  The major problem ident ified by ou r group was that even thou gh UBC had an ex ist ing compos ti ng s ystem, 70% of its waste stream is stil l made up of compos tabl e materials. The go al of our group was to elab orate on the cu rrent compos ti ng sch emes to impr ove the sustainabil it y of the UBC food s ystem. The opini on of the group i s composti ng at UBC shoul d be comm unit y-based to be suc cessful. The developm ent of an improved compos ti ng s che me on campus takes two sources of or ganic waste into consi der ati on: waste materi als from coo king scr aps produc ed in residenc es, and the organ ic waste coll e cted at cafe terias, restau rants, and ot her food outl ets. In order fo r compos ti ng to encoura ge people to act in a sociall y and environm entall y responsi ble manner t o increase the sustainability of UBC’s food system, it must be convenient. R ecomm endati ons are pr ovided to ensure it is pra cti cal.     C ompos ti ng at UBC  Group 6  2  Introduction  Currentl y in the UBC foo d s ystem the majorit y of the food scraps ar e throw n in the garba ge and taken to the dump. Compos ti ng is a more eff ecti ve and econo mi c wa y of disposi ng of food waste bec ause it increas es the sust ainabili ty of food s yst ems through nutrient rec ycli n g and waste reducti on. Aft er res ear chin g, workin g with the UBC sust ainabili t y o ffic e, and att ending compos ti ng wo rkshops on campus , we found that a foundati on of compos ti ng alr ead y ex ist s at UBC. The major problem identified b y ou r group was that even tho ugh thi s composti ng system existed, 70% of UBC’s waste stream is made up of comp ostabl e materials (1). Th e goal of our group was to el aborat e on the cur rent compost ing sch emes, wit h the aim of ex panding campus -wide at a reason able cost and pace, and wit hout causing too man y i nconvenienc es that would otherwise dete r students and UBC fo od services’ staff from participating. This participati on will be enco ura ged b y creati ng inc ent ives for the indivi dual, such as or ganiz ing int er - residenti al competit ions for the students and awar eness workshops on the benefits of compos t for enhan cing th e fertility and beauty of one’s own private garden. B y implementi ng some of the principles of sust ainabili t y discuss ed in Agricultural Scienc es 4 50 (2), this paper presents compost ing s che mes intended improve to sust ainabili t y of the UBC food s ystem.        Value Assumptions of the Group  Our group’s opinion is that composting at UBC should be community-bas e d. We feel strongl y that in orde r for compos ti ng to be suc cess ful it needs to be somethi ng the UBC comm unit y as a whol e is will ing to support and pa rticipate in. On the other hand we reali se that C ompos ti ng at UBC  Group 6  3  the UBC comm unit y is s omewhat fr a gmented ma king it chall en gin g to init iate a campus -wide comm unit y-bas ed compo sti ng pro gr am. Instead, we chose to fo cus on incre asing compos ti n g participati on in are as of campus where it alr ead y ex ists and introducing co mpos ti ng to other ar eas of campus ex periencin g food waste.     At thi s point in our discussi ons, different posit ions arose on the best appro ach for int roducing compos ti n g i n areas without it.  Some members felt en coura gin g the sub - comm unit y as a whole, throu gh educ ati on about the role co mposting plays in increasing UBC’s sust ainabili t y, is the best approach. Other memb er s felt encour a ging th e indi viduals within the sub-comm unit y, throu gh incenti ves and rewards, is the best approa ch. The members in the latt er group indi c ated that onc e enou gh indi viduals within the sub -comm unit y star ted compos ti ng a paradi gm shi ft would occ ur and the indivi duals wo uld continue to compos t to be a part of the comm unit y. Our recomm endati ons refle ct bot h of these appro aches. Finall y, ou r group agreed that the mo st important aspect of food secu rit y is the abil it y to be self-suf ficient.  C ompos ti ng takes awa y t he need fo r outside sourc es of fertili z ers by using t he compos t on comm unit y gard ens and t he UBC farm to incre ase the nutrient densit y of th e soil. This reduced reli ance on importin g fer ti li z ers into the UBC comm unit y is one wa y of increasin g the self -sufficienc y of the food s ystem. At the same time, incorporati n g compos t into the food s yst em all ows it to be more sust ainable.   Sustainability of Composting at UBC  C ompos ti ng at UBC  Group 6  4  A fundamental requirem ent of sust ainabili t y is en suring that a s ystem rema ins closed, whereb y the output s are conti nu all y c yc led back int o the system, mini mi z ing the reli anc e on exogenous inputs. Unfortunately, UBC’s current food system fails to meet this requirement.  Inputs flow in pr edomi na ntl y as pro cessed foods and the result ing post - con sumer waste is shipp ed off to landfil ls or incinerators. Th e rate of decompos it ion is slow in ox ygen -poor condit ions and w et or gan ic materials do not comb ust efficientl y, rend erin g both these methods of waste mana gement econ omi call y and environmen tall y unsound   Compos t ing can be an ef fecti ve and economi c alt ernati ve to wast e dispo sa l. Raw material waste form me al prep arat ion and the cookin g scr a ps from student residenc es can be coll ected, compos ted and finall y ap pli ed to campus gardens and used at UBC farm. Since compos t improves soi l structure and its water -r etention cap abil it ies, topsoi l stabilit y and the over all fertili t y of the soil are en hanced without havin g to use harmful agrochemi c als. The dist ributi on of compos t and the compos ti ng fa cil it ies at UBC far m would fu rther the farm’s mission as an educati onal ass et, wher e students would gain hand s -on ex perience with the process and be directl y invol ved in the resear ch and developm ent of effici ent compost ing programs. In order to en cour a ge tho se of us conc erned to act i n a sociall y and environ mentall y responsi ble manner, th e compos ti ng schemes must be practi c al. In time thes e schemes wil l influence a par adigm shi f t throughout the enti r e un iversit y comm unit y  as th e indi vidual and the comm unit y as a whol e re ali se that wast e minim iz ati on is essential to our present and futur e well being and that comp osti ng is advanc ement to wards livi ng mor e in acc ordance with the environment which ulti matel y determi nes our st an dard of living. Consequ e ntl y, an adv anc e towards a mor e sust ainab l e food s yst em is projecte d, where cert ain inputs ar e rec yc led wit hin the s ystem throu gh volunt ar y comm unit y invol vement in organi c waste m ana ge ment. It is hoped that C ompos ti ng at UBC  Group 6  5  once an eff ecti ve pro gra m is establi shed at UBC, the init iative wil l rippl e out into the P oint Gre y comm unit y and be yond .  History of the composting  Currentl y, thr ee AMS fo od outl ets (Pendulum , PieR 2  and Bernoulli 's Ba ge ls) have be en using bac k yard compos t bins that compost 18.9 L of kit chen waste per da y. These bins ar e convenientl y hidden in the bushes betwe en the Student Union Buil ding and the UBC Aquati c Centre where they are easily accessed. St. John’s and Green College both use vermi -compos ti n g to compost all of their kitchen wastes. Gre en Col lege us es its compost on its comm unit y gard ens. Previous l y UBC also had an agre ement with Brow ning - Fer ris Indust ries (BF I) to pick up and compos t organic waste from the residenc es.  Unfo rtunatel y, BFI chos e not to conti nue with the agreem ent. B y the year 2004, the sustainabil it y off ice at UBC plans to deve lop a lar ge-s cale in-vessel compos t uni t capa ble of compos ti ng cooke d foods, meats and other items that are not suit able for bin compost ing.  The approx im ate cost of $750,000.00 is signifi cant   and necessi tates the assuranc e that UBC food services and th e universi t y comm unit y reali z e the benefits of compos ti ng and mak e ful l use of the facil it y   Composting Scheme for UBC The ex pansion of the co mpos ti ng scheme on cam pus must take two source s of organic waste into consi derati on: waste materi als from kitchen scr aps produc ed in residences, and the organic wast e coll ecte d at cafete rias, restaurants, and other food outl ets. A separat e compos ti ng program is requir ed to de al wit h each of th ese.   Residential Organic Waste Management Program  Presentl y, the re is onl y one area of UBC Housin g that has a lar ge -sc ale organised compos ti ng pro gr am. At Acadia Residen ces, the re are 10 compos t uni ts loc ated nex t to a C ompos ti ng at UBC  Group 6  6  comm unit y gard en. This locati on all ows the reside nts to compos t food scra ps as well as gard en scraps. The  compos ted nutrients can then be retur ned to the garden soil. Th is is the ideal situation because it brin gs the comm unit y to gether and also provides a sourc e of food for thi s lower income area of UBC.    The residenti al areas o f UBC that have been iden ti fied as potenti al compost ing sit es are Gage Tow ers, Thunde rbi rd, Rit sumeikan and Fair view Crescent. We chos e these ar eas be cause the y are densel y populate d with students who cook man y of th eir own me als. All of these residenti al areas are pa rt of UBC Housin g, and alr ead y particip ate in the rec yc li ng pro gram. Ou r goal is to have th e occup ants of at least the se m ajor residenc es add nutrien t rec ycli n g int o their rec ycli n g s ystem.   Currentl y, if residents in these locati ons choose to compos t, the y must take it upon themselves to bu y and maintain their own Worm Bin either throu gh UBC Waste Mana gement. To encour a ge the use of Worm Bins in residence, Waste Mana gement shou ld designate ar eas to deposi t the fini shed compos t. If th ese areas wer e close to the curr ent rec yc li ng bins, the effo rt needed would be kept to a minim um. As well , students need to be awar e th at such pro grams ex ist and what the impli cati ons are.  Another option is to give each residenti al uni t a kitchen scr ap bucket. Th e y would be used to temporaril y coll ect un cooked kit chen sc raps be fore deposi ti n g them in a central bin, pr efe rabl y near the residenti al comp lex 's rec ycli n g area. When the compos t bins beco me full , or on a regul ar schedule, the bins can be transported to UBC farm where the y can finish compost ing and eventuall y be used on the Market Ga rden. ( In orde r for the Market Garden t o be consi der ed "Ce rtified Or ganic ", the compos t ma y hav e to sit for up to three ye ars befo re it can be appli ed to the garden ). Fo r the trans portati on to occur, a joi nt project wit h farm man a gement to ensure the compos ti ng materi al is picked up and us ed approp riatel y would have to be creat ed.  C ompos ti ng at UBC  Group 6  7   In anti cipation of some proposed problems, such as odours and pests , educ a ti on is needed to ensure that ev er yone is onl y compos ti ng th e app ropriate foods. Residents currentl y receiv e laminated post ers to corr ectl y id enti f y which pa ck agin g mat erials ma y be rec ycled. This concept could be used to inform rec ycle rs simil arl y about compost ing. Also, the ce ntral compost bins shoul d be closed wit h me chanism s to prevent acce ss to rodents and birds. Bins shoul d be kept fairl y cle an to avoid a ma jor odour problem.   As an incenti ve to en cour age student particip ati on, an int er -r esidenti al com peti ti on could be or ganiz ed. Floor -reps could monit or how frequ entl y the students use the compos ti ng fa cil it ies. The residen ce with the gr eatest participati on could win priz es for the comm on rooms or various other rew ards.    All residenti al are as on campus would benefit fro m compost ing; our group chose onl y a few that are alr ead y linke d to othe r UBC se rvices (i.e. Waste Mana gement) and contain the most students. Other ar eas of on-campus housi n g include Hampt on Place, the en dowment lands, fraternit y houses and the apartments ne ar the UBC Vill age. We recomm end advertisi ng compos ti ng opportuni ti es and offe ring fre e worksh ops to residents of these areas.  Food Outlets’ Organic Waste Management Program Another major sour ce of food waste com es from t he various food outl ets lo cated throughout UBC campus ; these include residen ce cafet erias, fast -food outl e ts and other restaurants. Th e food out lets that have been id enti fied as potenti al compost ing sit es are Totem Park, Place Vanier and P acific Spirit Cafete rias, 9 9 Chairs, the Ba rn, and t he AMS food outl ets in the Student Union Buil ding. Thes e food outl ets ge nerate two t ypes o f food wastes. One of them is raw mate rial waste from peeli ng pot atoes or carrot tops. The other t yp e of food waste is the food left on the plates from cu stom ers or waste from ov erproducti on or post - con sumer waste. C ompos ti ng at UBC  Group 6  8   Raw material wastes can sim pl y be coll ect ed b y the UBC farm and us ed to feed livestock such as pigs and chick en s or compos ted and used on the Market Garden. In contrast, post -consum er wast es can neit her be used as feed for li vestock nor compos ted using the cu rrent compos ti ng facil it ies at UBC bec ause the re is co ncern that patho gens in the wastes could b e transfer red to the livestoc k or to the soil. High tem peratur e heat tr eatm ent is required wh en compos ti ng food wastes other than ra w fruit and vegetables to kil l the path ogens. Due to the added compl ex it y and co st of set up for heat treati ng post -consum er wast e, thi s composti ng process ne eds to be contr acted out to a compos ti n g facil it y, su ch as BFI. In order to have a compa n y such as BFI tak e int er est in coll ecti ng the com post food wastes withi n the campu s, there must be an inc rea se of participati on from the food outl ets. One wa y to incre ase the partic ipation of food outl ets is tr y to make th e waste col lecti on as convenient as poss ibl e by inc reasin g the number of coll e cti ng bins around campus and providi ng colour ed bins to sepa rate the compos table waste from the ga rba ge. Edu cati on for con sumers and work ers is also important to increas e awa reness on th e impli cati ons of util iz ing the proposed compos ti ng s ystems.  Posters could b e posted around areas with in the food outl ets to inform consumers about the materials that can be coll ected fo r compos t.    Conclusion One way to increase the sustainability of UBC’s food system is to incorporate a functional and convenient compos ti ng pro gram at a reason ab le cost. Thi s ma y s eem o verl y ambi ti ous, yet a foundati on for such a sch eme has alr ead y been est abli shed in vario us place s around campus . All that is required is that co mpos ti ng pro grams be developed and int roduc ed campus -wide, and thi s can be accompl ished b y persuadin g students and empl o ye es of the UBC fo od services to participate throu gh adver ti sing and cr eati n g in cent ives. In time, it is hoped t hat the UBC C ompos ti ng at UBC  Group 6  9  community’s active participation will aid in the development of an effective composting scheme that will serve as a protocol for other sim il ar com muni ti es to adopt. With this outcome in mind, our recomm end ati ons include:  o Advertisi ng compos ti ng and fre e worm bin works hops to residents of Ham pton Place, the endowment lands, fratern it y houses and the apartm ents near the UBC Vill a ge. o Encoura gin g Waste Man agement to desi gnate areas to deposi t fini shed co mpos t close to the curr ent rec yc li ng bins for conveni ence.   o C reati ng a joi nt project wit h farm mana gem ent to transport full bins to South Campus farm whe re the y can finis h compos ti ng and ensu re the picked up compos ti ng mate rial is used appropri atel y. o Educati ng th e UBC population to ensure that eve r yo ne is awar e that compo sti ng pro gr ams ex ist and that there are posit ive impl icati ons with using these pro grams, su ch as incr eased sust ainabili t y of the UBC food s ystem throu gh nut rient rec yc li ng. This educ ati on can be done by ex panding on th e curr ent lami nated poste rs about rec yc lable mat er ials to include compos ti ng. o R e -ini ti ati ng the previous post -consum er compos ti ng s ystem which invol ve s contracti n g a compos ti ng to compan y such as BFI. o Making compos t waste coll ecti on as conve nient as poss ibl e by incr easin g the number of coll ecti ng bins around ca mpus , and providi ng foo d outl et wit h coloured bins to separate their waste from compos table material. C ompos ti ng at UBC  Group 6  10  References Cited  1.  UBC Waste Mana gemen t: Compos t Project.  Avail able at htt p:/ /rec ycl e.ubc.c a/com post .htm l   Accessed  200 2-03-30.  2.  C ondra J , Roj as A. Land, Food and Comm unit y III: Agriculture Scien ces 4 50. Vancouve r: UBC Bookst ore, 2002.                                       


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