SF State composts waste to help save environment
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It only takes a little environmental know-how to reduce waste by recycling. SF State students have the means to take it to the next level by composting food scraps and other organic discards.

The city of San Francisco has already been pushing 1,800 local restaurants to compost their food scraps as part of an ultimate goal to divert 75 percent of its waste from landfills by 2010. SF State has worked to keep up with the city trend.

The scarcity of the distinctive green compost bins on campus, however, make it difficult for students to know what, if anything, is collected for compost.

But SF State’s two food waste collection programs tackle their own portions of the university’s compostables without biting off more than they can chew. And their success will likely shape how and when the rest will be handled.

Thanks to a few concerned students, staff and campus workers, some of the school’s organic waste is collected behind the scenes. The Cesar Chavez Student Center and City Eats, the student dining center, collect food scraps. Outside, the Facilities Department collects campus yard clippings and trimmings.

Food and soiled paper thrown out virtually anywhere else on campus still become trash. Finding out how to collect the rest is an enormous challenge fraught with financial and logistical obstacles, according to school officials.

SF State does not have a school-wide collection program for compostables because accommodating another waste stream—with a new fleet of bins, signs, educational material and collection schedule—could cost $100,000 or more and years to implement, said Phil Evans, director of grounds, fleet services and integrated waste management.

Having a decentralized food service means that each private vendor pays its own garbage bill to the university and has a separate arrangement with the company, Sunset Scavenger, that hauls away the waste.

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