To increase their sustainability initiatives this year, CMU started a pizza box composting program. “CMU [Central Michigan University] is so great at composting because we collect both pre-consumer waste and post-consumer waste,” Facilities Operation Director, Jay Kahn said. Pre-consumer waste is waste produced by making a meal and post-consumer waste could be food scraps after a meal.
Previously, pizza boxes were exempt from recycling because the box gets contaminated by grease and pizza toppings that get stuck to the top of the box. Therefore, CMU started composting the pizza boxes.
The Student Sustainability Coalition presented the idea of pizza box composting to the university’s sustainability committee last year. The SSC consists of students that are committed to sustainability and include representatives from Student Government Association and Residence Hall Assembly among others.
The pizza box composting initiative was spearheaded by Assistant Director of Residence Life, East Community Grant Skomski, who hopes to reduce CMU’s waste. “We decided we could (compost pizza boxes) as an effort to capture waste that shouldn’t be going to a landfill,” Skomski said. “We came up with a product design last year and this past summer John Kassuba built the first prototype.”
Kassuba is the Assistant Director of Facilities Operations and is part of this initiative. This summer a pizza box collection post was set up in the Towers residence hall community, utilizing the large student population there for testing.
The building maintenance worker staff puts the pizza boxes in biodegradable bags, which are then taken to compost collection points located by the loading docks of each residential restaurant. The bags are picked up three times a week, Skomski said. Each quad and campus apartment area has at least one BMW worker. CMU’s ground maintenance department hauls the composted material to Morgan’s Composting in Sears, Michigan, Kahn said.
“(Kassuba) has made four more prototype pizza box collection (posts that) we are going to expand,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to have pizza box collection points throughout our system in residence life to help the campus more (with sustainability efforts).”