Willamette implements compost collection program on campus

Continuing with its strong commitment to sustainability, Willamette University has implemented yet another program addressing energy efficiency. Food service provider Bon Appétit Management Company recently joined the Marion County Solid Waste Management’s newest composting initiative, which invites businesses to participate in the already-established residential compost collection program.

Just as local residents can place their compostable items in a bin that is collected at the curb, Willamette can now collect its food waste from dining facilities and have it hauled away to be composted by the county.

The Willamette Composting Club has helped implement and support the program. The student-run organization already has helped with compost bin transport and facilitated education projects on campus. The club is working with Bon Appétit to add bins around campus; so far, they’ve added one at the Bistro, and they anticipate placing several more in Kaneko Commons and Cat Cavern.

“It is apparent that interest exists on campus for this project, and we supported and welcomed its implementation,” says club president Peter Henry ’11, an environmental and earth sciences major.

Bon Appétit has begun recycling all consumer food waste and kitchen scraps from Goudy Commons, including such things as meat bones and dairy products that were previously unrecyclable. In the past, the Composting Club diligently collected and transported residence hall waste containers to the university-owned Zena Farm off campus, but the Marion County program will eliminate the fuel usage between campus and Zena, further cutting energy consumption.

“This is a huge win for Willamette,” says Marc Marelich, Bon Appétit general manager. “We’re creating a greener environment, boosting support for sustainability on campus and also opening a door for education.”

The program allows Bon Appétit to capture 90 to 95% of waste from Goudy Commons, including plastic, oils, cans and bottles as well as standard compostable food items. The waste is collected in 14 50-gallon bins, which are then picked up by the county. Marelich says Bon Appétit hopes to soon upgrade to 20 bins, in addition to including Cat Cavern and Kaneko Commons in the equation. Ideally, academic buildings will also be included in time.

“In five years, I imagine there will be bins of every shape and size around campus,” Henry says. “Composting is growing in popularity across the west coast, and it is incredibly important to utilize this resource.”

Bon Appétit and Associated Students of Willamette University (ASWU) are working together to form an educational program for students, stressing the importance of waste management.

“Society is changing slowly on this issue, and implementing this program is part of a process to learn just how wasteful we are — something we all need to be cognizant of,” Marelich says.

For more information, contact Composting Club President Peter Henry at