In a continued effort towards sustainability, the Colorado College grounds crew began composting the organic materials from trimming, mowing, and gardening around campus.
Bestway, a local waste hauling company, will take the compost to a permitted composting facility at the Midway Landfill by Bestway.
“This is the first year that we will not be taking anything to the landfill that we can compost,” said Cecilia Ortiz, CC’s campus horticulturist.
Josh Ortiz, the new campus Grounds Supervisor, began coordinating with Ian Johnson, the school’s Sustainability Manager to catalyze the project about three months ago. Johnson pursed the contract with Bestway and the project was set into motion a month ago.
“Before, they used to mix all the compostable material with trash and everything into one bin,” said Ortiz. “Now we have two roll-offs [open topped dumpster], and we’ve started separating trash from the organic material. So far we’ve filled three 15-yard roll-offs.”
Although Colorado College has been composting since 2003, this is the first time that the material from grounds operations has been composted. The first composting project at Colorado College consisted of two tumblers behind the Synergy house where students could bring their food waste.
In 2006, students won a Campus Ecology grant to install a large EarthTub composter to collect food waste from Rastall Dining Hall.
All of the compost from this tub is used onsite at the CC farm.
“It will probably go much better in the summer,” said Gonzales of the project.
“Right now we have so much to collect because of the leaves, and in the spring we’ll have some of the grasses and stuff, but in the summer we will have a lot with all of the grasses we bag,” added Ortiz.
The project was relatively easy to implement.
“It involves a little bit more manual labor, in order to sort everything out, but it seems to be going really well so far,” said Ortiz.
The compost that is collected on campus cannot be processed and reused on CC’s campus because of the enormity of the waste collected. According to Ortiz and Gonzales, composting on that scale would require multiple year-round employees, a large plot of land, and a composting machine.
“Even if we aren’t using it on campus, we are still helping the whole big picture,” said Ortiz.
“There have been efforts in the past to use this waste in horticulture or terracing or biochar because all the compostable green waste was going straight to the landfill,” said Ben Feldman, the Building and Grounds intern in the Office of Sustainability at Colorado College.
Although CC has been composting for a long time and the Grounds department has been searching for a place to sustainably dispose of their organic matter, it took until now for a project to be put in place.
“CC’s an enormous institution, and it can be difficult to coordinate between all the different administrators and staff to get projects like this in place,” said Feldman.
Bestway, the hauling company that will be taking the organic matter to the Midway Composting site, has a strong relationship with CC already.
“The owners of the company have a vested interest in CC,” said Alicia Archibald, the Bestway Representative for Colorado College. “Bestway sponsors CC hockey, and one of the owners is a CC alum.”