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Composting at UI Hospitals and Clinics, Food and Nutrition Services

Composting is now available at UI Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC). The program is part of a University of Iowa initiative led by the UI Office of Sustainability across campus.  Composting containers have been placed at the exits of Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) cafeterias (Fountain Dining Room, Compass Café, Marketplace, Melrose, 6OR Cafeteria, Atrium Dining Room).


All employees of UIHC are encouraged to participate in the new composting program. Below are answers to some common questions.


What is composting?

Composting is a natural process that turns organic materials into a dark, rich substance. This substance, called compost or humus, is a wonderful conditioner for soil.


Where will UIHC Food and Nutrition Services organic materials become composted?

In an effort to reduce waste and produce quality compost for the community, the Iowa City Landfill and Recycling Center has a commercial composting facility for yard waste and other organics.   


What are the benefits of composting?

According to the Iowa City Landfill and Recycling Center, composting can significantly reduce the amount of organic material ending up in landfills.  In a landfill, organic materials break down over about 30 years and produce landfill gas, which is about 49% methane.  Methane is a greenhouse gas that is about 21 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.  While the Iowa City  Landfill captures and flares the landfill gas, it is environmentally preferable to avoid the production of land fill gas.  For the past several years, the Iowa City landfill and Recycling Center has sold out of compost.  Diverting more organics for processing into compost would help meet the community’s growing demand for more compost.


Was it necessary to buy special disposable takeout containers in order to compost?

Yes, all Styrofoam and plastic disposable products throughout FNS have been replaced with certified  biodegradable disposable products (ASTM D6400 and ASTM D6868 standard). 


Where can I put my food and disposables to ensure they are composted?

There are composting containers located at the exit of all of FNS cafeterias including Fountain Dining Room, Compass Café, Marketplace, Melrose, 6OR Dining Room, IStop, and Atrium.


Can I throw away my food and disposables anywhere beyond the cafeteria locations?

No, the Iowa City Landfill and Recycling Center can only accept compostable items that are 100% organic; no contamination is allowed or the load is treated and charged as trash. Materials must arrive unbagged, in paper bags or in pre-approved biodegradable, compostable bags that meet ASTMD6400 certification.


Is there anything we as customers can do to help with the composting initiative?

Yes, bring your disposable takeout containers back to the cafeterias to dispose of them in the compost containers.  Bring your own cup to ice/water dispensers throughout the hospital complex. Don’t choose a disposable takeout product unless you are actually taking it out.  Be open to changes—we are all working together to be more sustainable!


What items go into the COMPOST CONTAINER

Food Waste

Coffee Cups and Lids

Starbucks and Seattle’s Cup Sleeves

Clear Cups and Lids

Clear Carryout Containers

Paper Carryout Containers

Paper Sacks


Disposable Knives, Forks, and Spoons

Pizza Wedges and Boxes

Paper Carryout Boats

Deli Paper

Coffee Stir Sticks

What items go into the RECYCLE CONTAINER

Plastic Bottles



Noon News

What items go into the TRASH CONTAINER

Chip, Candy, Gum and Granola Bar Wrappers

Yogurt/Cottage Cheese/Ice Cream Containers

Milk Cartons

Plastic Cereal Bowls

Condiment Packages

Sushi Containers

Plastic Wrapping