University Sustainability

Defining Sustainability since 1899

Appalachian Builds on 20 Years of Composting on Campus with Dining Expansion

Source: Office of Sustainabiity
Thursday, January 23, 2020

In 1999, a group of Appalachian students began gathering vegetable preparation scraps and coffee beans from various campus shops in an effort to introduce the concept of composting to campus. This small-scale project laid the groundwork for the composting programs currently in place on campus, and the following year Jen Maxwell, who is now the Sustainability Program Manager in the Office of Sustainability, worked with faculty and physical plant staff to gain licensure through the state.

Under Maxwell’s watchful eye, further updates and expansions to the program have occurred, including residence hall compost collection, and the spring 2020 semester sees the introduction of front of house compost collection in River Street Cafe in Roess Dining Hall. In addition, the Office of Sustainability now employs two compost Ambassadors, students trained in compost operations and education.

Composting efforts at Appalachian have been successful due to ongoing work and collaboration between Campus Dining, Facilities Operations, and the Office of Sustainability.

The compost program also contributes to Appalachian’s carbon neutrality efforts. According to Compost Operations Coordinator Max Alff, Appalachian produced 128.22 tons of compost in 2019, which counts as a carbon credit in SIMAP, the school’s official carbon accounting system.

If you are interested in participating in this program you can choose your own compost collection container, and are responsible for emptying your own items into the collection carts. Old yogurt tubs, empty protein shake containers, or tupperware items work well for collection. Join with some office-mates and share the responsibility. Please do not bring off-campus materials onto campus for composting.

Non-Residential Building Compost Collection Sites- 32 or 64 gallon green carts:

  • Anne Belk Hall
  • BB Dougherty Hall
  • Garwood Hall
  • Katherine Harper Hall
  • Levine Hall
  • Lucy Brock Child Development Center
  • Miles Annas Hall
  • Office of Sustainability- East Hall
  • Peacock Hall- Coffee shop- 2nd floor
  • Plemmons Student Union
  • Roess Dining- River St. Tray Room
  • Reich College of Education
  • Trivette Hall

Residential Building Compost Collection Sites- 32 or 64 gallon green carts:

  • App Heights
  • APH
  • Belk / Frank
  • Bowie / Eggers
  • Cone / Summit
  • Gardner / Coltrane
  • Justice
  • LLC
  • Lovill / Canon/ Hoey / Doughton / East
  • Mountaineer
  • Newland
  • White

Items for composting:


  • All leftover food
  • Empty Pizza boxes
  • Paper - To-Go Boxes, Napkins, Paper towels, Wax deli paper
  • Coffee filters & grounds
  • Items labeled “compostable”
  • Tea bags


  • Recyclables
  • Landfill Items
  • Please place compost ONLY in the bin labeled

Questions? Contact

20-Year Timeline of Composting at Appalachian

1999-2000: Compost program began as a student led initiative by Sustainable Development and Appropriate Technology students- pilot began with coffee grounds, lemons, and lettuce

2000: Collection expansion and low tech aerated facility developed and officially permitted through the state of NC

2001-2009: Facility maintained by the Waste Reduction and Recycling Office of the Physical Plant and collections expanded to include pre consumer waste stream from all dining facilities

2010: Collaboration with local company, Advanced Composting Technologies to design new state-of-the-art forced aerated facility

2011: New facility opened and post-consumer compost collection expansion begins at major events and events held in the Student Union

2012: Compost curing site developed

2014: Composting begins at Kidd Brewer Stadium during home football games

2015: Composting expanded into entire fieldhouse during home football games

2016: Compost Screener purchased to develop high quality finished product

2017: Compost program pilot developed at one academic building and three residence halls

2018: Mixer/grinder and new collection truck purchased to better process post-consumer and compostable food service ware and create more efficiency within the program

2018: Expansion to collection at all residence halls, coffee shops, and several other academic buildings

2020: Expansion to front of house compost collection in Rivers Street Cafe in Roess Dining Hall

About Appalachian’s Compost Facility

Located at State Farm, the facility is permitted in the state of NC as a Type III compost facility, and has the ability to accept yard/garden waste, wood waste, pre- and post-consumer food wastes including meats and dairy, as well as manure and agricultural waste. In addition to the campus dining facilities, food waste is also collected from all campus residence halls, several academic buildings, and from large-scale campus events such as “Zero Waste” football games.

It has a capacity of 275 tons, and is currently producing around 130 tons of compost. For a step-by-step overview of this process, please see this article, and visit the composting page from Facilities Operations.

Interested in composting on campus or have questions? Contact Jennifer Maxwell at