Climate Compost Project


During the last school year, the National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) provided the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District a grant to build knowledge of climate science with students.  

The Climate Compost Project’s purpose was to demonstrate a method of reducing waste, to gain knowledge, skills and interest in composting food scraps and to connect waste reduction to slowing down the negative changes happening to our earth.

Fourteen schools were interested in participating in the project. Each school designated a compost coordinator to oversee the installation of equipment and the progress of the project.  Schools were able to use educational resources and request a guest speaker to help teach about climate change and compost science.  To determine project impact, the weight of the food scraps collected and the changes in students attitudes were measured. 
From October to May, 7,902 pounds of food was diverted from a landfill by composting mostly fruits and vegetables at school.  Composting one ton of food scraps conserve an equivalent of 37 BBQs.  During the project, 3.95 tons of food scraps were composted to mitigate 146 BBQs.   Converting the pounds of food waste collected to cubic yards, 17.84 cubic yards of food scraps were composted.  The average school dumpster is the equivalent of 8 cubic yards, so only two trips to the landfill were avoided.  The average distance from any given school to the landfill is 28 miles.  56 road miles of fuel burning were avoided or an estimate 0.02 tons of carbon not emitted into the atmosphere.  

The following represent the most significant changes in student attitudes based on changes from a pre and post project survey:
  • A 41% increase occurred in students knowing that composting organics helps combat climate change.
  • An additional 31% of students are worried about how climate change will affect their life.  
  • Over 26% of students understand keeping food and yard waste out a landfill is another way to slow down changes to climate and know what issues climate change causes like sea level rise and stronger storms.
  • Students better understood climate change is damaging the planet and organics in a landfill contribute to those damages.  
This project should encourage other schools to compost, since 70% of the students would choose to compost at school.  

Education Specialist Kathleen Rocco can offer recommendations on setting up collection of a compost program for your school.  In addition, the District's Recycling Container Grant can provide funding for a composting system. See details about the grant.

For more information about the Climate Compost Project, please call 216.443.3731 or email Kathleen Rocco

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