Pilot projects aim to reduce waste on campus

Karla Karcioglu, Roving Editor Ω

James Gordon stands beside the small portable composting containers which will soon be located across the campus. Karla Karcioglu/The Omega

James Gordon stands beside the small portable composting containers which will soon be located across the campus. Karla Karcioglu/The Omega

It might not always be easy to see the work TRU’s department of environment and sustainability does on campus, but they are hoping people at TRU will notice their new composter.

The department recently acquired a Jora Kompost 5100, an industrial, state-of-the-art in-vessel composter for a six month on-campus pilot project.

They have placed the new composter in the bottom floor of the Culinary Arts building. The location was chosen for several reasons, according to environmental programs coordinator James Gordon.

The first reason is because the composter would get a continuous supply of food scraps from the culinary arts program. It will also see a lot of foot traffic, which could aid in the department’s goal to help educate people on campus about composting.

Gordon acknowledged that he has heard concerns about smells and rodents that are common with compositing, but he wants to reassure people that neither is a concern when composting is done correctly.

“There’s an art to it and a science to it,” Gordon said, adding he has been composting for a long time.

The department has hired co-op student Allysha Sorba from the natural resource sciences program to run their composting pilot project.

Sorba will be in charge of maintaining small and large composting bins that will be placed around campus and then brought to the composter. She’ll also be responsible for monitoring the composter and conducting research on campus composting.

Sorba said the project is “fairly impressive for the university” and called it a cool opportunity for the school and a stepping stone for her own future career goals.

In a press release from Jan. 7, the university said it hopes to reduce waste on campus “by up to 275 kilograms a week.” Gordon said the composted materials will likely go to horticulture or other uses on campus and may be used as gifts.

The Jora Kompost 5100 sits in the culinary arts building where it will absorb food scraps and high foot traffic. Karla Karcioglu/The Omega

The Jora Kompost 5100 sits in the culinary arts building where it will absorb food scraps and high foot traffic. Karla Karcioglu/The Omega

Director of environment and sustainability Jim Gudjonson said that despite already being busy with a number of projects, the department couldn’t resist the opportunity to bring a composting project to TRU.

At the end of the pilot project, the department will determine if it’s worth continuing composting on campus, Gudjonson said.

The department plans to hold a naming contest for the Jora 5100 composter in the near future.

In conjunction with the composting pilot project the department is planning to conduct a overall analysis of the campus’ waste management systems, to address the cross contamination between trash and recyclables at current waste stations.

“There is a lot of confusion as to what goes where,” Gordon said, “There’s different sized bins, sometimes different colour bins and they’re just kind of around in no particular system.”

The department plans to pilot a number of zero-waste stations located in key areas around campus that offer students four choices: landfill garbage, recycling, cans/bottles and composting.

One major problem Gordon thinks needs to be addressed is the confusion over what can and cannot be put in the recycling bins. Although numerous bins still say paper only, Gordon said TRU is on the same recycling system as the City of Kamloops, so anything you recycle at home can also be recycled on campus.

The proven philosophy, according to Gordon, is that “if you give people all the options, in a single location, with a good looking system that is well labelled, you’re going to get a much better participation rate.”

The department plans to implement the zero-waste stations early in the winter semester and will monitor their success through till the end of the academic year. From there, they will do an analysis of the system and propose solutions to make improvements.