DEEP: Office Food Scrap Composting at DEEP

Office Food Scrap Composting
at CT DEEP Headquarters
 
 
 
Office buildings tend to generate large quantities of recyclable items.  Although many offices recycle the traditional items such as cardboard, paper, bottles & cans, the organic fraction of their waste stream goes largely unrecycled.  Often, food from kitchens and cafeterias is thrown in the trash or dumped down the drain through an industrial food grinder and ends up at the sewage treatment plant where it must be chemically treated before being released into the environment.  An alternative method for dealing with food scraps and other organic materials like soiled paper and yard trimmings is through composting...and CT DEEP has been doing just that!
 

{Composter Behind DEEP}

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Composter behind DEEP Headquarters
at 79 Elm Street in Hartford  
Since September of 1997, DEEP employees have had the unique opportunity to participate in an on-site Office Food Scrap Composting Program which recycles approximately 6,000 pounds (3 tons) of food scrap and other organics per year. Originally introduced by staff as a demonstration and Model Agency Pollution Prevention Initiative, the program has matured into a main-stream program with many benefits and has received building-wide acceptance. The success we have enjoyed is a direct result of the volunteerism displayed by the employees who manage and oversee the project, those who deposit their food scraps into the compost buckets, and from our building managers who have worked with us to incorporate the program into their daily routine.
 
 
  • Increased recycling rate and reduced waste;
  • Opportunity to show leadership in pollution prevention, source reduction, and environmental stewardship;
  • Generation of a quality compost product for use in landscaping at state facilities;
  • Opportunity to educate employees, visitors and other building managers about on-site office composting;
  • Consistency with the DEEPís Model Agency Initiative for Pollution Prevention and Source Reduction, Energy Conservation Plan, and Statewide Solid Waste Management Plan;
  • Reduced tipping fees;
  • Encourages employees and visitors to begin composting at home.
 
 
A small six-month pilot  involving only one floor of our office building was conducted to determine whether there was enough participation by staff to expand building-wide.  The conclusion was a resounding "yes", and four months later, a full demonstration project was started.  A description of the program can best be understood by viewing a progress report provided to the Green Team in September of 2013 which gives an overview of the program since its inception in 1997.  In addition, the first-year post expansion report provides more detail on the challenges of embarking on this endeavor.  Through this program, DEEP became a participant in the U.S. Food Waste Challenge in February 2014.
 
 
 
The primary vehicle for employee education is the "Compost Connection", a series of web pages on our internal website.  There they can find a list of items that can and cannot go into the compost bin, how to be a volunteer "Organic Mechanic", FAQ's, and resources about how to compost at home.  As well, a running tally of how much we have diverted is front and center on the home page.  Signage in every break room clearly marks what and where to place organics.  Earth Day and CT Recycles Day events at the office have included tours of the compost program, and compost give-aways to employees as a thank-you for their participation.
                                                                                       
{Compost Give Away on Earth Day}
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Compost Give-Away on Earth Day
Sharing our knowledge and experience with others about the program spills outside the office as well. "Bring Your Child to Work Day" usually features a compost tour and an activity - like making edible "dirt cake" out of chocolate pudding and gummy worms.  Tours are also offered to visitors, and are incorporated into meetings and outreach efforts such as our "Going Green Makes $ence" workshop for state agencies for which "A Work of Ort" handout was developed.  Several universities and other interested parties who have heard about our program have visited and sought technical assistance in establishing their own composting programs.
 
 
 
 
Collection, Composting and Harvesting Process - A series of photos depicting the compost program that are displayed at green events.
 
Compost Give-Away Earth Day Event - One of several green events at which we gave some compost to employees as a token of appreciation for their participation in the program.
 
Pass the Bucket Celebration - A gathering of volunteers to celebrate the transfer of food scrap collection duties to the building manager.
 
 
{Organic Mechanics Award Recipients}
The "Organic Mechanics" Team receiving a Distinguished Team Service Award in 2011.
They also received a "Green Circle Award" for their efforts in 1998.
 
 
 
For more information on this program, please contact K.C. Alexander of the CT DEEP Recycling Program at 860-424-3239 or kathy.alexander@ct.gov
 
  {Sign for Demonstration Project}   {Cake to Thank Volunteers}
 
 
Content Last Updated January 28, 2014