UISG discusses funding for new compost bins on campus

University of Iowa Student Government debated purchasing new waste bins for the IMU on Tuesday night, with hopes that the initiative will decrease the contamination of compost on campus.


Abby Watkins

Senators listen to a presentation during a UISG meeting on Tuesday October 15th senators discussed legislation and invited speakers to give presentations.

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Reporter

In alignment with the “reduce, reuse, recycle,” motto of the UISG discussed the addition of composting on campus after the development of the UI Office of Sustainability.

UISG debated a resolution Tuesday night to replace the compost, recycling, and landfill receptacles currently housed in the Iowa Memorial Union. The IMU has agreed to partner in the potential project, which was tabled for further discussion until Oct. 29.

The initiative would cost UISG and the IMU each a total of $4,442. The UISG Green Initiative Fund, a grant for student projects that promotes sustainable practices and outcomes, will fund the initiative with an additional $4,500, as well.

Julia Krist, a project lead intern at the UI Office of Sustainability, presented the new bins to UISG before the debate began. This project is necessary so compost cannot be contaminated by misinformation among students, Krist said.

“When we look at the university’s 2020 sustainability goals, two of the seven actually support composting,” she said. “Contamination rates are way too high. We need to increase the opportunities for students to learn about composting and sustainability. This is a great opportunity to do that.”

Krist added that new bins would be consistent with the colors typically associated with the recycling, composting, and landfill waste — blue, green, and black, respectively. 

The current bins in the IMU’s River and Hawkeye Rooms are all one color, Krist said, and the graphics and signage of the bins are confusing to students who don’t know much about composting.

UISG bought the current bins five to 10 years ago, the organization’s Vice President Sarah Henry said.

“The last time we bought these bins … it was a senator project, and I’m unsure that the Office of Sustainability was consulted at all in that process,” Henry said. 

UISG Parliamentarian Jacob Heid sponsored the new piece of legislation and said the research and assistance of the Office of Sustainability was important in preparing the project proposal.

“[The Sustainability Committee and the Office of Sustainability] have researched these bins and their standards,” Heid said. “We’ve conducted waste audits. We have consulted a behavioral psychiatrist on the increased signage and the standard colors or bins. Sustainability is becoming bigger on campus. It’s time to encourage the university to fund these bins by trying these bins.” 

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Heid said the bins would be implemented through a trial run in just the River Room and Hawkeye Room, where the most food is consumed in the IMU. 

UISG Sustainability Director Emily Manders, said this project originated several years ago and that it would take four or five months to fully enact if passed. 

“The IMU has lots of food dumping locations in comparison to other buildings on campus,” she said. “In order to compost, it must be less than 1 percent contaminated by noncompostable waste, which isn’t currently happening.”

The purpose of the new bins is to allow people who want to compost the chance to succeed in improving the environment, UISG Sustainability Committee Chair Joseph Haggerty said. 

“Waste management is essential in order for change,” he said. “These bins can have massive effects going forward. We can change the institution as a whole by increasing signage and having better bins.”