OSU Materials Management Policy for Changes to Compost Materials Collection

To be in effect January 1, 2017


For approximately the past two years, OSU has developed a composting collection program that includes the material referred to as “PLA” which stands for poly lactic acid based plastics. Many of OSU’s student, faculty and staff have come to consider food utensils and cups that are produced using this technology as acceptable in the composting stream and have sorted these as compost at special events, and certain facilities on campus where separate compost collection has been established.

In a letter sent from OSU’s current compost hauler and processor, Republic Services in July 2016, the acceptance of non-fiber based materials, including PLA produced products, will no longer be accepted as part of their collection policy.  These changes will be enforced through potential penalties to OSU and those it services for compost collection, including being charged disposal fees for loads of compost materials that don’t meet Republic’s new standards. These new acceptance standards will go into effect on January 1, 2017.

Policy Change

To comply with this policy, effective January 1, 2017, OSU Campus Recycling will no longer accept non-fiber based materials, including products containing PLA, in the current compost program. It is recognized that this policy has a significant impact on current operations where the sale of food is involved, particularly dining halls, contracted food vendors, and catered events, both by OSU Catering and outside vendors. Campus Recycling will work closely with all food managers and their staff to help transition toward eliminating, and at least significantly reducing the disposal of these materials in compost collection containers. As this may affect our various operations differently, and having gained helpful feedback about how to move forward with our compost policy and procedures, we have developed the below profiles.

Dining Halls

All Campus Dining Halls will move to “back of house” only separation of food leftovers from consumer sales. All staff will be trained to separate out any plastic or non-fiber based cutlery or plastic cups. Pre-sorting by consumers at the point of disposal is not encouraged unless there are monitors guiding consumers at compost disposal locations.

Catered Events

All event planners are encouraged to use low packaging or ”zero” waste guidelines to plan menus for outdoor and indoor events. Events that involve distribution of compostable packaging that fulfill the new Republic policy requirements as “Fiber Based”* ONLY, will be provided compost collection bins and carts by Campus Recycling. Any events involving both acceptable and non-acceptable packaging (see below) for composting must provide recycling station monitors. Monitors are responsible for instructing consumers on which materials are acceptable for composting, recycling and trash/landfill.

OSU Food Vendors Contracted by OSU

OSU Contract Managers are encouraged to review the current contract requirements for all vendors that are selling or distributing food on the OSU Campus. As soon as possible, contracts should stipulate the requirements of this policy as part of the vendor’s terms for successfully fulfilling the contract. Current vendors that have adopted the use of all acceptable fiber based packaging materials will be encouraged to participate in OSU’s composting collection program. Vendors that are not complying with this policy will not have compost collected after January 1, 2017. 

Public Area Composting

Areas of Campus such as Valley Library and North Porch Café that host and manage compost collection in public spaces will no longer accept serving ware of any type in their compost. Building occupants and visitors should be directed to place these items in the trash bins. All signage and bins should be modified to reflect this change no later than January 1, 2017. Building representatives that manage these collections will be required to receive training from Campus Recycling in order to continue providing for public area compost collection. Contact us to learn about training opportunities.

Other Managers or designated staff of event venues such as the Memorial Union, LaSells Stewart Center and CH2M Hill Alumni Center that provide ongoing public area compost collection will also be required to modify their collection and receive training.

Campuswide Compost Acceptance Guidelines

Acceptable Organic Materials
  • Yard Debris
  • Pre and Post Consumer Food Waste
  • Wood Waste
  • Pre-Approved Fiber Based Compostable Service Ware*

*Compostable Service Ware: Fiber Based Compostable service ware (including cups, plates, knives, forks, spoons, etc) are approved for commercial customers only. Fiber Based Compostable service ware needs to be certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI). A list of BPI certified products and distributors can be found at www.bpiworld.org. Commercial customers will submit a list of products in use to their account manager one month prior to submitting materials for processing. Customers will be notified if products in their waste stream are incompatible with the PRC normal operational procedures and will be asked to exclude those products within 30 days of notification.

A list of pre-approved service ware is available here and is currently under development (more will be added).

Non-Accepted Materials
  • Metals
  • Glass
  • Plastic
  • Shrink Wrap
  • Wax Coated Paper (including waxed cardboard)
  • Painted or Treated Wood
  • Wood with Laminates, Glues, or Resins
  • Street Sweepings (or leaves collected off of the curb)
  • Non-Food Industrial Waste
  • Non-Approved Compostable Products*

For More Information

Contact John Deuel via email or 541-737-2856.