Compost has big impact on campus sustainability

TRU has halved the amount of waste that would originally go to the landfill

Help make TRU greener, make sure you always dispose of your waste in the correct bin. (Jennifer Will/The Omega)

Sustainability has been noted as a strategic priority by students, staff and faculty on campus. It was identified as such back when TRU was in its infancy as a university in 2007. Compost, in particular, has made a huge impact on campus reducing landfill waste by around 400 tons.

Jim Gudjonson the director of the TRU Sustainability Office says after it was identified as a priority, one of their initiatives was to bring in the recycling stations and place them all over campus. These stations separate recycling, cans, landfill waste and compost.

“We generate from around 1000 to 1200 tons of waste and back when we started the composting program the organics was quite a large portion of the tonnage because it’s heavier,” Gudjonson said. “So our overall landfill is about 500 to 600 now.”

The composts journey starts by being collected by a dedicated janitorial staff that manage the organic part of the waste. After the compost is collected from the bins around campus it makes a journey over to the c-can which is next door to the Sustainability Office.

“In there, there are two in-vessel composters, those will handle 100 liters of materials a day. So, they are quite large,” Gudjonson said.

The compost is then mixed in with wood pellets and wood shavings which is used to add nitrogen to the mixture.

“Then it goes into the first chamber and it all gets mixed together with the existing compost in there. After a week or two, the augers take it into the next chamber where it looks more dirt-like. The process then with the added nitrogen, mixing, adding air and all of that stuff turns that banana peel into dirt in about six weeks,” Gudjonson said.

Gudjonson says that having a compost system on campus is important because of the environmental implication of not having a compost system.

“When you throw organic waste into the landfill it gets buried and it rots essentially, and it creates methane. From an emissions perspective, methane is 20 times more harmful in the atmosphere compared to carbon monoxide for example,” Gudjonson said.

The compost material made at TRU stays at TRU and is used in the flowerbeds and gardens around campus. Gudjonson adds that keeping compost on campus saves emissions from the organic materials being carted off to a landfill and even more emissions than buying compost and having it shipped to campus.