Sodexo, the company behind Lee Dining, is nothing but excited about the partnership. Bruce Reed, general manager of Deacon Jones Dining Hall, said the partnership was originally suggested by NewTerra. This partnership is valuable to NewTerra, as Lee is a founding member of the Cleveland branch of NewTerra along with Lupi’s Pizza, Misfit Tacos, The Bailey Company, The Press and New Life Community Kitchen.
“The fact that the student body is aware of this is so amazing because it’s not just a one-time thing that was offered to Lee, it’s something they planned and paid for,” explains McCarley.
The switch to composting is strongly aligned with Sodex’s values as a company. Sodexo is a leader in sustainable development in the corporate world, with its Annual Report from 2021, reporting a 44% reduction in carbon emissions since fiscal year 2017. In nearly 20 years at Sodexo, Reed has overseen several schools that have launched composting and recycling programs.
The composting system itself operates like an ordinary waste management system. Food waste is collected at the end of the day in biodegradable bags and placed in a bin outside the canteen to be picked up each week. Although the system currently offers no monetary benefit over regular waste disposal, there is more that comes into play.
“Because residue doesn’t need to be drained into our grease traps, the machines last longer than they otherwise would,” Reed said. “Instead of filling trash cans with food scraps, trash should be picked up less often.”
Reed would like to introduce the composting initiative to other areas of campus, but needs to be able to produce a financial balance. Reed said the program needs to be able to provide a way to make up for the money lost by switching from regular disposal to composting.
“Sodexo has always been a sustainability-minded company, and the Deacon Jones Dining Hall is a pilot program to see if the benefits outweigh the cost of expanding on campus,” Reed said.
If composting eventually offsets the cost of regular trash disposal, many hope it will continue to spread across campus.