Who knew composting could be so easy?! Since mid-February more than 21 tons of the Darden School’s kitchen organic waste have gone straight to Black Bear Composting in Crimora, Virginia, where it is transformed into nutrients for flower and vegetable gardens.
Darden’s phenomenal kitchen staff (especially chef William Russell) has executed the collection process flawlessly, taking care to avoid inadvertent contamination by things like ketchup packets or straws, which can’t be composted. We can even throw in our corn-based coffee cups. Most of the compost comes from coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peelings and other kitchen prep waste.
Like many sustainability actions, this one has been a journey. We were helped along the way by several Darden MBAs who conducted for-credit projects analyzing the costs and benefits of both on-site and off-site composting. We ultimately decided that off-site better fit our needs for now. While there is a carbon footprint associated with transporting the compost, it’s about the same as taking it to the landfill would be. Also, initially we thought we would have to grind or pulp all of our organics before composting, but Black Bear allows us to send it as is. This saved us a significant kitchen equipment expense.
We love closed loop cycles that help Darden progress toward our zero waste goal by 2020! To learn more, read Darden School of Business Takes Next Step Toward Zero Waste Goal.