Argonne is composting to reduce waste and return nutrients to our soil
By Catherine Hurley, Sustainability program manager
Sustainability is a journey that challenges us to continue reducing our environmental impact and engaging each other in cost-effective solutions. Waste diversion and recycling have been a successful part of Argonne’s Sustainability Program. Now is the time to chart a course for the next opportunity — composting.
In basic terms, composting is a natural process of recycling organic matter into a material that improves our soil. Compost is the humus-like product (solid) of the process of composting waste, which gardeners use as a fertilizer and fondly refer to as “Black Gold.” Compost also improves soil structure, allowing it to hold the correct amount of moisture, air and nutrients.
Thanks to our All-in-One Recycling Program and specialty programs (batteries, light bulbs, scrap metal), Argonne has achieved a 44 percent diversion rate for non-hazardous waste. We have held steady at this accomplishment for the last few years. Argonne is now implementing a composting program to increase our waste diversion rate and help us reach our next target of 50 percent.
Planning is important when we start a new leg of our sustainability journey. Based on our multi-year planning effort, the composting program focuses on food scraps at our dining facilities and paper towels at selected washrooms. Over the next 18 months, the program will aim to increase Argonne’s waste diversion rate by 24 percent and increase the laboratory’s total diversion rate to around 68 percent.
We can all support pollution prevention and waste reduction at the laboratory. Make your everyday actions sustainable with these pollution prevention and composting tips:
- Dining in? Choose dishware and silverware at the cafeteria instead of using disposal products. Recycling is great, but avoiding disposable products is even better for the environment and for your wallet.
- Bring food scraps to the tray return area when eating at the cafeteria. In our no-mess composting program, cafeteria staff separate food scraps “behind the scenes” in the dishwashing area and during food preparation.
- Look for the green compostable bags for paper towel and tissue composting. Selected washrooms in the 200, 300 and 400 Areas will convert garbage cans to composting containers with green compostable bags. Please use other common space containers for recycling and garbage.
- Think before you print. Paper is 10 percent of our non-hazardous waste stream. Help reduce this waste by printing only when necessary and use All-in-One recycling containers across the lab.
- Help promote our program. Volunteer to be a composting ambassador and receive resources to share information with your colleagues about the program. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Argonne has a long tradition of environmental stewardship and sustainability. We take pride in being part of the sustainability changes taking place, and have fun doing it. Visit Inside Argonne for additional information on Argonne’s Composting Program. Questions or comments can be sent to email@example.com.