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Archived iCAP page information

Posted by Morgan White on September 8, 2014

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is pursuing development of a large-scale food waste composting facility on the University’s property, in order to compost food waste from University dining halls.  This interest is precipitated by the commitment made by the University in the 2010 Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP): “The University will commit to… a large‐scale food composting project by 2012.” The new facility will initially receive and process all acceptable pre- and post-consumer food waste from six dining halls on campus, as well as supplementary landscape waste as necessary carbon bulking material from Campus Grounds. In the future, if needed, the system may accept additional landscape waste from the city of Champaign as well as livestock bedding and other animal-related organic waste from the University’s Agricultural and Animal Sciences Departments. The finished product will provide rich compost material to agricultural projects on campus such as the Sustainable Student Farm, as well as to campus grounds and athletic fields.


The University of Illinois is dedicated to composting across the board.  There are three main academic campuses at Urbana, Springfield, and Chicago and two medical campuses at Peoria and Rockford.  We are in communication with all of these sites about the future of composting at the University.  This is an exciting opportunity for the sustainability contacts to work together and support each other in a major sustainability initiative.  Additionally, the University Extension office has a long history of supporting sustainability and has numerous resources for composting operations that we can call upon as the project progresses. 

In 2008, the Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, pledging to become carbon neutral by the year 2050.  As part of this commitment, the University published “Illinois: A Climate Action Plan (iCAP)” in May 2010, describing several projects related to various aspects of campus sustainability.  This document is available online at  

The Procurement and Waste aspects of campus sustainability are highlighted on page five of the iCAP.  It states “The University will commit to a Zero Waste campus policy by 2012, a large-scale food composting project by 2012, and target an increase in the University’s waste diversion rate to 75 percent by 2020.”  The specific project is listed on page 34 item 4 under Agricultural targets, as “Incorporate a large-scale food composting project by 2012.” 

The composting project also has significant support from campus leadership represented by Associate Chancellor Pradeep Khanna, Facilities & Services as represented by Tracy Osby the Waste Management Coordinator and Jack Dempsey the Executive Director, and the students as represented by the Student Sustainability Committee.  The Office of Sustainability works closely with Facilities and Services to assist with the various projects in the Climate Action Plan, and will assist with project implementation and promotional information.

Currently, approximately 1411 tons of food-waste is collected annually from the five major Dining Halls on campus.  Unfortunately, all of this waste is sent to the Clinton Landfill.  There was a small pilot composting project which diverted about five percent of this waste during the short pilot test phase, but it has not been in operation for the last year.  The proposed Large-Scale Food Waste Composting Facility will divert 100 percent of this food-waste and utilize Grounds department landscape waste to generate approximately 2,822 tons of high-quality compost annually.  The compost material will be used solely on University land, including the campus grounds, athletic fields, and the Sustainable Student Farm project.  Future expansion of composting operations could incorporate the animal waste at the Beef and Sheep Facility, which is directly south of the Compost Facility.   At that time, the finished product may be used on certain crop sciences lands.