Small actions can make a big difference - 5.035 tons, to be exact. The Residential Compost Program (RCP) - an initiative that provides volunteer-run compost collection in all residential facilities on campus - relaunched in 2018 after five years of smaller, pilot programs.
The first full year of implementation was a huge success, with a large measurable impact on total compost collection for Cornell.
By the numbers
Over 3,800 tons of food waste and other compostable materials are collected for processing by Farm Services at the Cornell Compost Facility. Food scraps from front-of-house and back-of-house collection in Dining Services, as well as waste animal bedding, manure, and plant debris, comprise most of the material.
But the Residential Compost Program (RCP) made a significant contribution this year, account for 5 tons of that waste. The compostable material collected would previously have gone into the landfill.
The program is staffed by 46 student compost managers (three times larger than any previous year) and managed by the student intern position of Campus Sustainability Office Engagement Intern.
The program originated from broad community interest in composting in residential communities. Composting has been available in Dining Facilities since 2012, but until 2014, there was not an option for disposing of food scraps sustainably in the residence halls and other living communities.
In the 2018-2019 academic year, the RCP reached 2/3 of all residential communities at Cornell including those in North Campus, West Campus, Graduate School Housing, areas of Collegetown and select co-ops and Program Houses.All locations where residential communities can participate are listed on the Cornell University Sustainable Waste Map.
The RCP is currently in the process of becoming an independent, student-run undergraduate club. This structure will promote program longevity, as upperclassmen graduate, underclassmen adopt the CM responsibilities.
Story written by Naomi Haber, Campus Sustainability Office Engagement Intern (2019)
For more information about waste on campus, contact Cornell R5 Operations .