February 3, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 2°F


Ithaca College Eco-Reps pilot new Circles composting program

The IC Eco-Reps are partnering with the Tompkins County Solid Waste Management Division to unveil a new composting site at the Ithaca College Circle Apartments, where there currently exists no composting program.

The first day of the program was Nov. 15. Each Sunday a composting bin will be located at the Circle Apartments community building for two hours, said senior Ben Tolles, sustainability project assistant of the Eco-Reps.

Composting is the “managed biological decomposition of organic waste to create a soil-like substance called humus,” said Mark Darling, sustainability programs coordinator.

Darling said for every ton of food scraps diverted from a landfill, around two tons of carbon is kept from being released into the environment.

The Eco-Reps will be responsible for handling the compost until it has reached sufficient decomposition, at which point it will be given to Tompkins County Solid Waste — provider of recycling and solid waste services for the county — which will use it for fertilizer or mulch, Tolles said. Tolles said TCSW will supply individual bins for students to collect compostable items in between dropoff days.

An Eco-Rep will be manning the composting bin in order to prevent contamination, Tolles said. If the compost is contaminated, Darling said, they have to get rid of it.

“It’s really important to keep contamination out of the food scrap stream … If somebody puts the wrong stuff in there, we’re going to have to scrap it all,” Darling said. “That’s why having a drop spot with staffing there is so important.”

Composting on campus can save money, Tolles said.

“The college actually has to pay to get rid of their trash, so in a way, it could reduce costs on the college because they just take it to the compost facility rather than a landfill,” Tolles said.

Darling said the college already composts food scraps from the dining halls, so this new project aims to provide more comprehensive compost coverage.

Tolles said this and other programs beginning this semester, like including individual Eco-Reps on community councils, all have a similar goal of reduction.

“I like to focus on reduction in general, of energy, of water, of natural gas,” Tolles said. “This is just another way to reduce your impact.”

Kyle Arnold can be reached at karnold1@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @KyleArnold12