Creating Our Own Compost

HKUST set an ambitious goal of reducing its landfill waste by nearly 50% by 2020 using 2014 as the base year. The goal was met this year, but we are not stopping there.  To further reduce our landfill waste, a Composting Pilot Project is underway.

In light of the COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong, paper towel waste and biodegradable takeaway meal boxes are expected to increase once students start returning to campus, making this project more necessary than ever. These items are non-recyclable, but they are compostable. Commonly used in agriculture and home gardening, composting is becoming a popular method in lessening waste going to landfill. The product of compost can be used by landscapers on campus. HKUST is running this Composting Pilot Project to assess its feasibility and possible expansion in the future.

Several trial runs where held in the summer to experiment with different combinations of composting ingredients. Several considerations such as how long would the waste be turned into compost, like what waste materials would pair up with the paper towel waste to give a satisfactory outcome (answer: coffee grounds); which ingredients may attract animals and insects (answer: avoid meat and bones); and how will the compost impact the surrounding environment (answer: avoiding meat will keep the smells down too).  While composting seems simple, there are quite a few challenges to work through.

The first few compost rounds mainly aimed at checking the success rates of paper towel waste turning into compost, mixing in different combinations such as food waste of rice, bread, coffee grounds, rabbit manure and biodegradable takeaway meal boxes. After a few successful runs of two months, the next step was to find out what other waste could be paired up with the paper towels to expand this project further. In addition, finding the right ratio of ingredients was extremely crucial to turn the waste into good quality of compost.

There are still much to try out such as setting up the surrounding environment to assist in speeding up the composting process and improving the compost quality. The pilot project is giving great insights and experience. If you are interested in joining our pilot – or are just curious to learn more – please contact us so we can work together to turn waste into treasure for blooming our greenery.

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