OSU Materials Management Policy for Changes to Compost Materials Collection

Effective as of January 1, 2017


OSU has a compost collection program which, for approximately the past two years, included Poly Lactic Acid based plastics or “PLA”. Many of OSU’s students, 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 at certain campus facilities with established compost collection.

In July of 2016, Republic Services (OSU's compost hauler and processor) notified OSU that they will no longer accept non-fiber based materials, including PLA produced products, as part of their collection. 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 are effective as of January 1, 2017.

Policy Change

To comply with this policy, 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 eliminate, or significantly reduce, the disposal of these materials in compost collection containers. The profiles below have been developed using feedback about how to move forward with our compost policy and procedures that may affect our various operations differently.

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, non-fiber based cutlery and 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 when planning menus for outdoor and indoor events. Events that fulfill the new Republic policy requirements, involving distribution of compostable “Fiber Based” only packaging, 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 in compliance with this policy will not have compost collected. 

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. In order to continue providing compost collection for public use, building representatives that manage these collections will be required to receive training from Campus Recycling. 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
  • Pre and Post Consumer Food Waste
  • Pre-Approved Fiber Based Compostable Service Ware*
  • Yard Debris
  • Wood Waste

*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 must submit a list of current products 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
  • Glass
  • Metals
  • Plastic (including PLA-based products)
  • 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.