The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) recently implemented a new composting program, working to reduce resource use and waste production, and generate greater green awareness on campus. The program involves installing compost bins in the SSMU cafeteria and partnering with Compost Montreal, a local collection service that will take the organic waste, cultivate its decomposition into compost, and later redistribute it as soil amendment.
SSMU Environment Commissioner Kristen Perry called the project “part of ongoing efforts to improve the operational sustainability of SSMU.”
Perry highlighted one of the larger problems the program aims to tackle in an interview with The Daily. “Methane produced by food in landfills is around 24 times stronger than CO2 as a greenhouse gas,” she said.
SSMU Environment Commissioner Keelin Elwood also noted that the project’s implementation will “reduce the landfill waste created by the SSMU building, while simultaneously educating the McGill community to be more conscious in regards to waste.”
SSMU faced some roadblocks in implementing the program, and continues to confront difficulties raising awareness. The most persistent problem is compost contamination.
“Often there are non-compostable items, such as styrofoam, plastic, or animal products, thrown in the bins, which usually means that the whole bag has to be thrown out,” Perry explained.
The program is fighting this by developing more targeted signage. Moreover, Perry told The Daily, “the Environment Committee also held a compost education week when members, wearing a banana suit, got students in the cafeteria to participate in our composting challenge.” Participants were told to determine which items on their trays were compostable and which were non-compostable.
Commissioners agreed that, ultimately, to fight the issue of contamination, more education is needed.
However, this can pose a challenge, Green Building Coordinator Alex Heim told The Daily. “It’s not only difficult to educate on composting, but also difficult to find students interested and committed to adopting a lifestyle like this on a daily basis.”