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Composting Comes To The Ward Parkway Campus
Andrew Mouzin

Seventh grader Daniel Young takes his lunch tray to a cart close to the dish return station in the Ward Parkway Dining Room. He picks up his plate, scraping off his uneaten risotto into a green compost bin. The Ward Parkway Campus has joined this year with the Wornall Campus to compost its food waste. The program began on the Wornall Campus in the spring, where it was well-received. “When we implemented composting for Pembroke Hill, we elected to introduce it at the Wornall Campus to ensure it would work well and then expand onto the Ward Parkway Campus,” chief financial officer James Miller said. “The intention all along was for PHS to compost on both campuses.”

All food items can be composted, James said, including bones, napkins and specialized corn-based, individual serving containers procured to support the initiative. James said the only things served in the Ward Parkway Dining Room that can’t be composted are tea bag packets and aluminum foil, which is used to wrap sandwiches on occasion. 

Two stations in the Dining Room have been setup for the students to compost near the dish return area. The compost materials are placed in special decomposable bags, which are picked up by a local composting company, Missouri Organic Recycling, three days a week, to be transformed into enriched soil. The school then can utilize the new soil for outdoor landscape projects, garden beds and more, as needed. Pembroke Hill will generate more compost than can be consumed on campus.

“The program has been well-received, and as students understand how simple it is to compost, the process to clear one's tray after lunch speeds up," James said. "In addition, the volume of compost collected is another tool for us to gauge the success of our culinary options, as we seek to maximize food consumption."

Food service manager Joe Kilishek said students, faculty and staff have really accepted the new program. "Students and faculty have been commenting on how great it is that we are composting and helping the environment."

Ward Parkway Dining Room chef manager Brendan MacNaughton said after the first week, they've already seen a marked decrease in the amount of refuse collected. "We have eliminated waste cans in the dining area and have decreased the amount of excess generated in the kitchen by about half," Brendan said. "I am excited to have started composting here and bringing the importance of reducing waste to the attention and intention of the student body." 

James shared, "We believe this is an important step for the education of our students, as they recognize that small, daily efforts to reduce our carbon footprint doesn’t have to be complicated. Together, through the choices that we make, we can work to positively impact the world for ourselves and future generations.”