SAN FRANCISCO – In September 2015, the San Francisco Minerva residence hall acquired two large, green compost bins to help reduce organic waste in the kitchen. Six months after their introduction, it is clear the compost bins are rarely used for their intended purposes.

The green bins, located in two areas of the kitchen, are often filled with plastic and other synthetic waste. This waste should be disposed of  in the grey garbage bins – also located in different areas of the kitchen.

Synthetic waste- wax coated paper, plastic bags, tin foil, saran-wrap, bones – does not decompose at a rate fast enough to be turned into compost. When synthetic waste is mixed in with compostable waste, the bags are often transferred to a regular garbage disposal facility and waste that could have been composted is not. Furthermore, biodegradable plastic bags are not compostable. While they break down faster than other bags – many of which do not break down at all, they do not degrade at the necessary rate to be composted.

Green compost bins can be used for all non-cooked food waste, specifically fruits and vegetables, with the exception of meat and shellfish. Additionally, non-wax coated paper packaging for foods, such as muffin papers can be disposed of in the compost bins. Taking the time to make sure that the correct waste is being disposed of in the correct places is a simple way to help the environment.