USC installs compost bins in residential halls to promote sustainability

The university hopes this new initiative will reduce food waste on campus.

The university installed 40 compost bins across eight residential halls Wednesday as part of its 2020 sustainability plan. The university will introduce an additional 20 compost bins at off-campus locations in the future, according to Nichelle Mitchell-Huizar, the program administrator for USC Auxiliary Services.

Compost bins are used to dispose of food waste and other organic material. Compost reduces waste and methane emissions in landfills and improves soil and water quality, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

One reason for the installation of compost bins is to streamline ways students could contribute to campus sustainability, according to Isabella Caltabiano, the Undergraduate Student Government director of sustainability affairs.

“I think students have been really eager in looking for a way to make change,” Caltabiano said. “By providing these compost bins in accessible locations it just makes it much simpler for the everyday USC student to do their part.”

Compost bins were installed in several residential halls including, Webb Tower, New North, Troy Hall and Troy East. Students who encountered the compost bins expressed their enthusiasm for more food disposal options.

“I’m really excited for the composting process to begin because I know it’ll have a positive impact,” said Lily Castle, a freshman majoring in theatre. “[Composting] is something that once you get used to it, you don’t even think about it.”

The compost stations are a springboard for the university's sustainability plan that seeks to improve waste management culture on campus.

“As we have new classes coming and they learn this is the routine, this is how we recycle, this is how we compost, this is how we minimize our waste…the behavior will change,” Mitchell-Huizar said. “In three to four years, I think campus will be completely onboard with recycling and composting.”

Mitchell-Huizar hopes disposing food waste with compost bins will become normalized across campus.

“You have a lot of students that come from composting and a lot that don’t understand it,” she said. “If everybody is working and they see everybody on campus composting and taking their plastic and putting it in the blue bin, eventually it’ll just be second nature.”

USG and USC Auxiliary Services are working in conjunction to place composting instructions in every residential college room, Caltabiano said. The instructions will be printed on magnets on each room’s refrigerator and will explain which items need to be recycled, composted or thrown out in the trash.

Calabiano said a representative of USC Housing will be present at the weekly farmer’s market to discuss composting with students.