Composting pilot program launching

No plans to extend Leonard pickup elsewhere, Griffiths says; RWS still to lobby Queen’s, city

Food Services won’t collaborate with the city on its organic waste management program.
Food Services won’t collaborate with the city on its organic waste management program.

AMS team RWS hopes to work with the University and the city to compost organic waste across campus. Food Services is starting a pilot composting project next week in Leonard Hall this month, but Residence and Hospitality Services Director Bruce Griffiths said it’s unlikely this will be expanded any time soon.

“Leonard is a pilot program for the next year,” he said. “We want to get the bugs out of it before expanding into the other dining halls. We would then look at expanding into retail.” Griffiths said it would be difficult to expand the program beyond the cafeterias, whose staff sorts through the waste as students leave their trays on the conveyor belts.

Griffiths said the main logistical problem in expanding the compost program to campus retail is the need to teach students how to separate compostable from non-compostable material.

“The education involved in this would be tremendous,” he said.

Phil Sparks, Food Services resident district manager, said Leonard Cafeteria is starting a compost program with the support of CORCAN, an agency within Correctional Service of Canada.

“Until now, there has been no place for organic waste to go,” he said.

The first organic waste pick-up from Leonard will be on Jan 30. The waste will be compacted behind Leonard Hall before being transported to CORCAN’s central composting facility, located close to Kingston.

Sparks said it’s feasible to redirect organic waste to a composting facility, but there are possible logistical problems.

“It can’t be 100 per cent perfect by tomorrow. It takes retraining of the way people sort their waste.”

There’s a risk that non-compostable material will be mixed with compostable material, he said. If a certain percentage of sorted waste is non-compostable, it’s redirected to a landfill instead of the compost facility.

“Leonard is the least of our problems. Our staff controls all the waste that comes in and out. The public is the biggest challenge,” he said. “There is a low percentage of waste that can be non-compostable before being redirected to landfills.” Another problem is the bags used to collect the waste, Sparks said. Food Services is buying compostable bags from a manufacturer so the first organic waste pick-up can go ahead as planned.

Griffiths said the compostable bags—at $0.85 a bag—are more expensive than regular, $0.20 plastic garbage bags, but this isn’t stopping Food Services from implementing the new initiative.

“If greener were cheaper and easier, then everyone would do it,” he said.

Food Services is implementing this program separately from any city initiatives, Griffiths said.

“Kingston didn’t have a compost facility,” he said. “There is no dialogue with the city taking place.”

City of Kingston Public Education Co-ordinator Tim LaPrade said the city isn’t involved with the University’s initiative but is working to launch an organic waste pick-up program of their own for residents starting this fall.

An Integrated Waste Management Study encouraged Kingstonians to divert 65 per cent of their waste from landfill by 2012. The city will host a public consultation on Jan. 30 to ask for feedback on the report.

“After that, we’ll start moving forward with the recommendations,” LaPrade said.

Stephanie St. Clair, AMS vice-president (university affairs) candidate, said the team’s platform involves expanding the compost initiative to include residences and other campus facilities as well as continuing the program at Leonard Cafeteria.

“We have two separate plans of action. One, we will work directly with Food Services and Corrections Canada,” St. Clair said. “Two, we will work with the city. This past summer, the city launched a reassessment of the waste management system and established a 25-year plan. This emphasized a plan to target the student ghetto.” Team RWS wants to encourage the city of Kingston to implement an organic waste pick-up system by 2010.

 “We are hoping to advocate on behalf of students to speed up the process. We want to rejuvenate and revitalize the idea of the AMS as a lobby group,” she said. “Next year, the initiative would extend to the JDUC and residences.” St. Clair said many people don’t realize how much of landfills are organic waste.

Because of the wide range of services at Queen’s that produce organic waste, there are multiple organizations that would be involved, she said.

“We would work with the sustainability co-ordinator, cafs, residences and the city council to coordinate all of these aspects.” St. Clair said both the University and the city are looking to revitalize their environmental reputations.

“Kingston itself is trying to rebrand its image. For example, there is lobbying for the city to be fair trade and there is a resurgence of the farmer’s market.”

Presidential candidate Talia Radcliffe said her team’s initiative is particularly important to first-year students so they can learn to compost before they leave residence for the student Ghetto, where much organic waste is produced but not composted.

“Starting out with first-years means that when these students move into the Ghetto, they impact environmental sustainability.”

She said she was surprised Griffiths said students wouldn’t take the initiative to compost.

“If you train dons to teach [first-year students] ... I’m almost positive they’d be excited to take that on.”

—With files from Gloria Er-Chua

Executive decisions

The AMS After-Hours Childcare service was cancelled in 2005 after the AMS Board of Directors decided the service was losing too much money and wasn’t serving enough undergraduate students. The Journal asked each AMS executive team whether it would try to bring the service back.


Presidential candidate Holly Archer said the AMS has to acknowledge students from different walks of life and try to accommodate their needs.

“If it can’t be something we offer, [we should be] at least helping someone fund something else,” she said.

She said as executive her team would be ready to help anyone committed to taking on this type of service.

“There should be some assistance so that everyone can get the education that they’d like,” she said. “University is expensive so there has to be some kind of affordable option. … It’s definitely something we would look into.”


Presidential candidate Talia Radcliffe said after-hours childcare is an important issue but it’s not exclusively for the AMS to deal with.

“The University after-hours day care is a necessity for faculty members as well.”

Radcliffe said faculty associations, the administration, the SGPS and the AMS all have a role to play in addressing the issue.

“It would have to be a shared committment because it’s a shared service.” Radcliffe said if another group started the service, she would introduce an AMS opt-outable fee to support it.

“That would probably be the only viable way to be committing money. The opt-outable fee gives students the option to participate or not based on their need or belief.”


Presidential candidate Allison Williams said she wants the AMS to have a representative in the childcare working group led by Associate Dean of Student Affairs Roxy Denniston-Stewart.

“To put it simply, we have undergraduate students with children and they should also have a voice on this working group,” she said. “We would invite feedback from the student body at large.”

She would also bring the issue up at the AMS Board of Directors meeting.

“We want to take it to the Board and see what sort of financial contributions, if any, we would be able to contribute, and go from there.”

Gloria Er-Chua, Jane Switzer, Clare Clancy

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