Barbecue for 700: just one bag of trash

First all-campus event to include composting dramatically reduces waste

Brandeis University’s All-Campus Barbecue on Thursday, Aug. 10 yielded just one full bag of trash though more than 700 staff and faculty members partook in the annual celebration.

The remaining food scraps were composted, marking the first all-campus event to ever feature composting.

The effort came as part of Brandeis’ renewed commitment to waste diversion. Brandeis tripled its composting rates in the dining halls last semester. In 2016 so far, dining halls have collected 49 tons of food waste for compost, up from 27 tons in 2015.

Kitchen staff compost food scraps like meat, dairy and bones, as well as preparation leftovers including stems and peels.

“Our leftover food contains nutrients that are good for the soil.” said Brandeis sustainability manager Mary Fischer. “So, composting makes the best use of our food waste, and exemplifies our commitment to managing our waste in the best way possible,”

Thanks to new signage, strategy and training of staff, Brandeis also re-launched its campus recycling program last year.

Those efforts resulted in campus reaching a 26% recycling rate in 2016, an all-time high that demonstrates significant improvement from the 2015 rate of 18%.

The short-term goal for recycling on campus is 40%, the national average for universities.

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