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What are the Obstacles to Starting a Compost Program at Work?

by Rhonda

What are the major obstacles people run into when trying to start a composting program at their work? I currently work in the food industry.

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Oct 04, 2011
3 Considerations to Get Started – Part 1 of 2
by: Compost Junkie Dave

I have to start off my answer with a little bit of honesty…I’ve never attempted to start a composting program at work. The furthest I’ve taken my efforts at my current workplace involve me collecting all of the paper from the shredder to use with my composting worms, as well as bringing my food wastes home with me to compost in my backyard.

That being said, I’ve definitely still got some advice for you, and hopefully others in our tribe will add to this post; all of which can help you get all of the answers you’re looking for to get your work’s composting program off the ground.

Below are some of the major obstacles I can foresee, as well as some possible remedies…

1. Co-worker Compliance – This may sound a little bit harsh, but based on my experiences it reins true…Most people just don’t care enough to compost. For whatever reason, call it laziness, pace of work, etc., a lot of people just don’t care. But as with most things, I’d bet you can apply the 80:20 rule here. That is, if you can get 20% of your co-workers to comply, the other 80% will follow. Isn’t peer-pressure a wonderful thing? 🙂

Try your best not to react to poor compliance initially, if it occurs. Try to open yourself up to the reasons why your co-workers may be responding certain ways. Ask questions? Search for clues, or leaks in your systems design, and then try your best to repair them. Remember, it’s human nature to resist change, so approach the issues gently and try not to apply unnecessary pressure. If done properly, your co-workers will eventually come around.

Possible Remedy – Design your collection system to be as user-friendly as possible. Don’t ask people to do anything they’re not already doing (aside from throwing food waste into a separate container). For instance, don’t ask your co-workers to throw their garbage out in one location and the food wastes out in another location. The sorting of these items must be kept in very close proximity.

2. Time and Energy – Who is going to ensure the food wastes get removed from the work environment on a frequent basis? Who is going to maintain the cleanliness of the collection containers? Your system must be kept as clean as possible. That means no fruit flies, no odors, no mold, or else your co-workers may start to complain and composting in your workplace may get a bad rap.

Possible Remedy – Depending on the amount of food waste you’re collecting, you may need to find a couple co-workers to help you out. Your goal will be to design a daily routine (before or after work) in which containers get emptied, washed, and put back in place. Try to ensure the routine is the same day in and day out, so it’s easier to uphold.

continued on next post…

Oct 04, 2011
3 Considerations to Get Started – Part 2 of 2
by: Compost Junkie Dave

3. Then What? – So you’ve got your co-workers complying, the system is running with very few maintenance hiccups, but then what? What happens to the food wastes after they’re collected?

Will you be composting them on-site? Or will you be handing them over to your township/city and allowing them to compost them for you?

Possible Remedy – If you’re planning to compost on-site, let us know, because that’s a whole other can of worms; however, if you’re planning to hand the waste over to the city…CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve just implemented one heck of a compost program at work.

Of course there are other things you must consider, but this is a start. If you have more specific questions relating to this topic, please reply to this post, and we’ll do our best to answer those as well.

Otherwise, please keep us posted on the success of this system.

Good Luck.


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