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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Compost Cats partner with Tucson community

	File Photo/The Daily Wildcat

File Photo/The Daily Wildcat

UA project members have dealt with 1.1 million pounds of food waste over the past three years.

The UA Compost Cats, which is run through the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, recently surpassed 1.1 million pounds of food waste diverted from the landfill and composted, and they are planning to divert even more waste through partnerships with the Tucson community.

For their efforts, members said they were notified that the Compost Cats have been named Non-Profit Recycling Representative of the Year by the Arizona Recycling Coalition. The project will be honored at a ceremony in Phoenix on Oct. 17.

“It’s always nice to have a little bit of recognition,” said Chet Phillips, graduate assistant for sustainability and project supervisor for Compost Cats. “What I hope an award like that would do is help get the word out to the campus community, as well as the broader Tucson community.”

The student-run program has been a fixture on campus since the fall of 2010. The club collects food waste not only from the UA, but also from more than 20 businesses in Tucson, and takes it to the San Xavier Co-Op Farm, where it is turned into compost.

“By taking this food waste and turning it into a soil additive, we’re not only providing nutrients to the soils of Tucson … but we also keep it out of the landfill, because food waste is a primary source of greenhouse gas methane,” said Ashley Sanders, a veterinary science junior and member of Compost Cats.

Compost Cats members are currently working on a collaboration with the City of Tucson to divert more food waste, landscape waste and zoo animal manure from the city to the club to be turned into compost for local gardens and landscapes.

Members said their goal is to have a greater impact in the Tucson community, in addition to the UA.

“We’re just really forming a lot of new partnerships and working toward becoming an important part of the whole Tucson community,” said Sarah Appleby, a veterinary science senior and the assistant supervisor of Compost Cats. “We really have made huge impacts on waste reduction, and we’re really heading toward much bigger amounts.”

Project members are currently partnering with the City of Tucson, Pima County and Tucson Meet Yourself officials to focus on recycling and composting efforts at the Tucson Meet Yourself event, which takes place Oct. 11-13.

The partners met often and continually worked on ways to ensure they would continue to have an environmentally friendly event this year, said Tim Escobedo, operations director of the Tucson Meet Yourself event. This year, the event will be styrofoam-free and will feature educational skits, he added.

“For us it’s a big benefit to partner up with the Compost Cats and the U of A,” Escobedo said. “We’re really excited about our upcoming event and how our partnership has developed with the UA Compost Cats, along with Pima County.”

Compost Cats members will present a brief skit at the festival on waste reduction with students from local elementary schools and the Girl Scouts. Members will also be at the festival to make sure people know what they can compost.

Phillips said he hopes to continue forming partnerships throughout the city in order to further promote sustainability.

“We’re building a soil fertility hub for southern Arizona,” Phillips said. “We really are interested in continuing to partner with the local groups to create something that’s a public benefit.”

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