Compost Drop-Off Bins

Anyone at UCSB can use one of our compost drop-off bins for any food or compostable products! Most are large solar-powered compacting units with yellow doors called “Big Bellies”, while others look just like our other 4-unit tan trash & recycling bins on campus with an extra space for compost. Compost collected from these receptacles is added to our commercial compost pickup (see Dining Commons and UCen composting below). Almost all foods purchased on campus are served in compostable to-go containers including plates, boxes, soup cups, coffee cups, and paper liners. Pre-packaged items like chips, snack bars, and pre-bottled beverages must still go into the recycling or landfill bins. Any food item can go into these bins, as well as compostable ware, soggy cardboard, napkins, etc. because they will be industrially composted. Check out AS Recycling’s website with the button below to learn more.

UCEN and Dining Services Composting

All food waste generated at the Housing and Residential Services Dining Commons and at the UCen is diverted from the landfill through an industrial composting program. Both departments collect all scraps from the kitchen including fruit & vegetable peels, stems, and even meats and dairy that can’t be processed onsite by the Department of Public Worms. The Dining Commons also composts post-consumer food waste left on dining-ware after meals. 

The Dept. of Public Worms is not equipped to deal with such large quantities of food waste on campus, nor can we compost animal products, so all Dining Commons and UCen food waste is picked up once a week by Marborg then taken to a commercial composting facility called Engel & Grey in Santa Maria. Engel & Gray’s 90-day cycle (as opposed to the 45-day cycle most facilities use) also gives us the opportunity to use compostable plates, utensils, and other items with confidence that they will completely break down.

Department of Public Worms student-staff pick up pre-consumer food waste from the Carrillo, Ortega, and De La Guerra Dining Commons. We feed around 100 pounds of food waste to thousands of red wriggler worms each week and we use the extra food that cannot be fed to the worms in our hot compost stalls. The worms turn unwanted food waste into amazing compost and liquid soil amendments that can noticeably improve your plants. See our page on Worm Tea for more information. 

For more information on what we do on campus, read more – About Us.

Grounds to Grounds

Grounds to Grounds is another major on-site composting program operated by Facilities Grounds Staff. They collect buckets of used coffee grounds and filters from the all campus coffee carts each day and add them straight into the campus landscaping beds where they break down quickly, naturally replenishing nitrogen in the soil. You may have heard that coffee grounds are too acidic to be used directly on plants like this, but in reality almost all of the acidity is washed out during the brewing process. This very simple program diverts roughly 2 tons of coffee grounds each month from the landfill, with huge peaks during finals week of course.