Aramark launched a new composting program in collaboration with the Office of Facilities Management and the Office of Sustainability, that will divert over 25 tons of food waste per month from O’Donovan Hall and Epicurean and Company from being sent straight to the landfill.
The initiative was launched in early April, after the previous composting facility in Delaware that Aramark had partnered with closed down. From now on, a large portion of organic kitchen waste and post-consumer waste will be sent to the Maryland Environmental Service, where it will be converted into a compost product for organic agriculture, gardening and landscaping.
According to a press release from Georgetown Dining, the product of the composting process will be converted into usable soil fertilizer.
“Organic materials are mixed together and, with the help of earthworms and microorganisms, the materials decompose into nutrient-rich soil. The final compost product from [Georgetown’s] food scraps, called ‘LeafGro,’ is used in Washington, D.C. and surrounding states. … Each year, more than 300 tons of food scraps from campus will be transformed into high-quality soil fertilizer,” the press release read.
Director of the Office of Sustainability Audrey Stewart said that the composting program will help reduce the negative impact of food waste on campus.
“By composting Georgetown’s organic food waste at an off-site facility, our waste will ultimately be made useful again, contributing to activities such as food production in our local region,” Stewart said.
Currently, Leo’s serves more than 5,000 students a day, combining with Epicurean and Company to accumulate over 25 tons of organic waste per month.
Aramark Marketing Manager Adam Solloway said that the new program also requires changes in the daily operations at Leo’s.
“Employees and kitchen staff have gone through extensive training to accommodate the new composting system and maintain the success of this program by separating food waste and paper into designated composting bins lined with compostable bags,” Solloway said.
Solloway also said that a wide variety of materials can be composted in the new program.
“The materials composted include produce and meat scraps, egg shells, coffee filters, dairy products, bones and paper towels from kitchen prep stations and waste left on the dish carousel.” Solloway said.
According to Solloway, the composting initiative is part of a larger plan to make Leo’s and the greater campus more sustainable.
“In addition to the composting program, we recycle 100 percent of used fryer oil, purchase recycled napkins, installed automatic sinks and lights in restrooms and by eliminating trays from Leo’s, we conserve more than three million cups of water annually. In this year alone, our six water filtration systems have diverted almost 350,000 water bottles from landfills,” Solloway said.
The initiative has received a considerable amount of input from interns working in the Office of Sustainability who recognized how important composting waste from Leo’s is in increasing sustainability efforts across campus.
“Composting also raises awareness about waste reduction. Food production requires lots of energy, land and water, yet more than a third of all food is thrown away in the U.S. every year,” Office of Sustainability Ambassador Mandy Lee (SFS ’17) said.
Other students also pointed to the importance of making the food system on campus more sustainable.
“Food plays a huge part in environmental sustainability, and I support any step that Georgetown can make towards a less wasteful food system,” Casey Nolan (COL ’17) said.