Message from Zero Waste – Upcoming changes in campus compost collection


Implementation after Finals Week Spring Term, with changes in full effect on July 1, 2019

Please refer to below documents in this message regarding necessity for compost changes and updates to the UO Zero Waste Program materials handling list.  This change was made by the City and is being implemented City and County wide as well.


Over the next few months, campus will be changing compost collection to a FOOD SCRAPS only collection.  As of July 1, 2019, Paper food ware, items labelled compostable, utensils, napkins, chopsticks (non-food items), will no longer be accepted.  Changes in the composting markets have necessitated a fundamental change in the campus collection.  I have attached a letter from the local compost processors, that explain the challenges with the current compost collection, that necessitate this change.

The UO Zero Waste Program is in the process of updating: signage and equipment, program sorting guidelines, associated documents, website, which will be completed by June 30, 2019.


As you may have noticed, over the past year, due to high rates of contamination, compost collection has been reduced in public areas.   Moving forward, FOOD SCRAPS only collection will be focused on: behind the counter pre/post-consumer food scrap collection in cafes, industrial kitchens (Housing, EMU, Catering) and department kitchens.  There are still a few public campus compost collection sites that will be phased out after Finals Week.  Full implementation will start July 1.  Please follow posted signage and bin categories in continuing to participate in the Zero Waste system.


The volunteer compost program will still continue, but will only accept Food Scraps.  Participants will be notified.  Thanks to all who have been participating in this successful program.  For more information contact: 541-346-2354


In spaces that still have public compost, doors/signs on Zero Waste units will be changed out to a glass/metal/plastic collection.  Built-in cabinets will keep the same doors and be relabeled to Landfill as the non-food compostables are bulky and will now be landfilled.   The Program is working with campus stakeholders in campus cafes, kitchens, food service areas, to assist and ensure that food scraps will continue to be collected and processed.


As compostables have been a big focus of Zero Waste events, compostables are the most prominent materials that are currently generated at campus catered events.  As these items will no longer be accepted, the Zero Waste Program will still offer an opportunity to order Zero Waste event services, but the collection will be for acceptable recyclables and food scraps only.  Zero Waste events are requested through CPFM Work Control 346-2319, and are provided cost estimates for the event prior to setting up Zero Waste Events services.  You can also submit requests online via our call log system

Catering does offer collection of bottles/cans upon request and Zero Waste opportunities are still available in over 2500 locations campus wide.  Of note:  Zero Waste events services are free to events utilizing durable food ware options.  At this type of event, FOOD SCRAPS collection will be offered but with a smaller bin.  Zero Waste will continue to work all of the larger campus events such as street fair, folk fest, and commencement.


With this change come opportunities for waste reduction:

*many campus food outlets offer discounts for bringing a refillable beverage container

*the UO is home to countless water refill stations, with Eugene having some of the cleanest drinking water in the world

*bring reusable utensils and a reusable to-go container for use at campus food service outlets

*choose to reduce consumption by taking what you will use with items like napkins, straws, stirrers, chopsticks, condiments

*catering offers an opportunity to order “durable” food ware for events, this is a great step to reducing campus waste

ZERO WASTE is still thriving
As there have been recent changes in recycling and now compost collection, the UO is working hard to ensure recycling and composting are here for the long haul.  Though there have been changes in global and local recycling and composting markets, zero waste systems are re-grouping and the UO, City of Eugene, Lane County and State of Oregon, are committed to continuing to reduce and manage the waste stream to enhance natural resources.  There are still markets for all of the collected materials at the UO.  The Program recovery rate continues to trend over 50% for the past 5 years while adjusting to and minimizing market impacts.  Thanks UO!

Here’s some things you can do:

*follow sorting guidelines, for example:  the UO takes plastic bottles and jugs (with handles).  Other plastic items are not accepted and cause contamination.

*put only clean items in recycling

*food scraps are anything that is food including: all meat and dairy, bones, food scraps from prep (i.e. egg shells, carrot tops, husks, skins, cores, food waste from meals etc…)

*don’t assume that something goes into recycling/compost that is not included in the guidelines

*haul corrugated cardboard to outside building locations, remove all non-cardboard items from package

“When in Doubt, Leave it Out”

*buy products made from recycled content as that is critical in closing the loop and creating a demand for the materials that are collected

*purchase what you will use

*buy items with reduced packaging that are easily recyclable in Lane County

Thank you for your participation and support of the UO Zero Waste Program!

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Karyn Kaplan
Zero Waste Program Manager
UO Zero Waste Program
CPFM Facilities Services Zero Waste Program
1276 University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403-1276

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