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Waste Management

Waste Management

The waste generated on the Athens campus is managed in multiple ways internally by the Office of Recycling and Zero Waste, the Compost Facility and Moving & Surplus.  Recycling, compost, landfilled waste and surplus items generated on campus are carefully and separately processed to allow the University to perform responsibly in regards to our waste management practices. Ohio University has a contract with Athens Hocking Recycling Centers  to haul recycling and landfill waste from the Athens campus.  Compost and surplus items are processed internally. 


Office of Recycling and Zero Waste

The Office of Recycling and Zero Waste has set a goal of recycling 80% of the waste generated at Ohio University. Recycling and Zero Waste is responsible for maintaining, monitoring, troubleshooting and upgrading the recycling and waste at all campus buildings and grounds areas. Within these areas are 4,000 recycling units in residence halls consisting of 16,000 bins; 350 bins in apartments; and recycling containers in all offices and other areas in academic, administrative and support areas.
Recycling and Zero Waste Management coordinate many campus recyling and waste reduction activities throughout the academic year, such as:
- Annual move-in and move-out days at the residence hall
- Organize & participate in the annual RecycleMania national competition (OU helped start it!)
- Give presentations to students, faculty, and staff about campus recycling services
- Campus event recycling (athletics, conferences, etc.)


Compost Facility: 

Ohio University currently produces Class II Compost and Class IV Compost. The Class II compost facility is the largest known in-vessel composting system at any college or university in the nation.  Food waste generated in the dining halls on campus is taken to this facility where it is processed into nutrient-rich soil amendment and then used on campus grounds and sold to the public.   Learn more about this system.
Community members are encouraged to utilize the nutrient-rich soil amendment generated at the Class IV compost facility.   Learn how to purchase soil amendment from the compost facility.  
Do you know what happens to your food waste when you dine in the dining halls on campus?  Are you an office or department interested in creating your own office compost program?   Learn more about composting on campus.
Compost Facility Tours
Are you a faculty member interested in bringing your class up to the compost facility?  Are you a staff member at another institution looking to develop a compost facility?  Or, are you a student club interested in learning more about organics recycling?  The staff in the Office of Sustainability would be happy to support your goals by offering a tour of the facility for groups of 6 or more.   Schedule a tour of the facility by filling out a tour request form


Surplus Materials: 

All materials on campus that can be reused are transferred to the Office of Moving and Surplus. There, the items are placed into inventory and resold to the campus and community. 


How to Compost on Campus 


How To Compost On Campus

Ohio University is home to the largest in-vessel composting system at any college or university in the nation.  


Any individual who dines on-campus is encouraged to only take as much food as they can eat.  The absence of waste is the most important step in managing organic materials.  Though, we understand that, sometimes, there are food items which cannot be consumed.  


In situations when food waste does exist, the process for participating in the composting efforts on campus is quite simple!  

In most dining facilities, the diner merely places his/her tray of leftover food on the conveyor belt.
The conveyor belt takes the tray to a trained Culinary Services employee who separates the tray's contents into three categories: food waste, landfilled waste and recyclable waste.  
The wasted items are separated into bins and the filled bins are then taken to a loading dock where appropriate entities pick-up and process the contents of the bins.  
In the case of compost, the food waste is taken to the compost facility located at The Ridges, mixed with a bulking agent (mostly woodchips) and then processed in the in-vessel system.  
It takes approximately 2 weeks for items to pass through the system and then it "cures" in windrows for an additional 90 days.  
After that time, the nutrient rich soil amendment that is created is used on campus grounds, reducing our need to purchase petroleum-based fertilizers.


While we are able to collect 100% of the organic materials disposed of in the dining halls and Central Food Facility, we do not currently have the infrastructure available to locate compost bins in every building or campus space.  Though, members of an academic or administrative unit, office or department are encouraged to capture organic materials (such as food waste) and deposit it for organics recycling (composting).  There are a few simple steps involved with setting up an office-wide composting program: 


Office Composting Program

There are requests campus-wide from offices which wish to engage in composting efforts.  We're thrilled to hear that so many people are excited to compost. Though, there are many logistics about such an effort that will require research and infrastructure upgrades. So, Ohio University is currently in the pilot phase of being able to encourage inidividual offices to compost their food waste. The Office of Global Opportunities is currently serving as a test office to determine if individual offices can collect and drop-off their food waste at central campus locations.


In the meantime, other offices can choose to collect food waste and elect an employee to take the organic material to their home composting system.  If your office wishes to pursue this avenue, here are some tips for getting started:


1.) During a team meeting, communicate the desire to implement an office-wide composting program.  Allow all individuals to weigh in with questions or concerns.  If there are questions you cannot answer, be sure to write them down and email them to sustainability@ohio.edu.  We'll do our best to help you navigate this step in the process.  


2.) If the group votes to implement a composting program, create guidelines and disposal schedules.  Be sure to create answers to the following questions:

What types of materials are you willing to accept?  The individual taking the food waste home should weigh in on this question.  Many home systems cannot accept dairy and meat products.  

How will materials be collected in the office (what bin will you use and where will it be located)?  Consider finding a bin with a tight fitting lid.  If you have extra fridge space, perhaps your team will agree to leave the container there or on a kitchen counter, space permitting. 

What is your disposal schedule?  Plan out how often the designated employee will empty the small bin and who is responsible for cleaning the returned bing.  Consider developing a schedule of responsibility to share the load.  


3.) Check back to this website often to see if an on-campus departmental composting program is adopted.  


Thank you for your interest in supporting sustainable behaviors at Ohio University!


Zero Waste Initiative

The Zero Waste efforts at Ohio University are a product of the collaboration between Rural Action and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs as part of the Appalachian Ohio Zero Waste Initiative, a program funded by the Sugar Bush Foundation.

Zero Waste

What is Zero Waste?

To reach zero waste, by definition, one must have a 90% diversion rate of waste going to the landfill. This is achieved by reducing the amount of waste created, recycling or composting the waste instead of throwing it away, and reusing and re-purposing items that are still functional.

Our goal is to work in collaboration with the Ohio University faculty, staff, and students to create a more sustainable campus, specifically through the improvement of waste management programs and Green Event planning resources.


Contact Us

If you are interested in helping to increase the sustainability of our campus by promoting Zero Waste and Green Events, please contact the Student Zero Waste Coordinator, Kate Blyth, at zerowaste@ohio.edu.