By: William Alexander

Permanent compost bins will soon be installed in McMaster University Student Centre thanks to the efforts of a coalition between the McMaster Students Union’s Sustainability Education Committee and an independent project for a third-year sustainability course.The coalition has already met with MUSC’s administrator and has secured a grant from the Student Life Enhancement Fund to finance the project. They plan on installing the new bins at the beginning of the new year.

Currently, MUSC is serviced by temporary green compost bins. These were provided by members of the project to allow for composting in the interim, and have been dutifully emptied and sorted by members of the project since late October.

Fiona McGill, chair of MSU Sustainability Education Committee, explained that sorting the compost bins has been no easy task.

“People just see an open bin and they throw stuff in there,” she said. To confront the problem, a sign has since been added to the temporary bins reminding students that plastic is not compostable. As of Nov. 13, responsibility for the bins has changed hands to the custodial staff as members of the group reach the end of their pilot project’s term.

Permanent compost bins existed in MUSC in the past, but were removed in the last student centre renovation in 2016 and were never replaced.

“Lots of student groups tried to [implement bins] in the past, but they weren’t successful,” said Alicia Giannetti, a member of the project.

  By meeting with several members of the administrative staff within the university, her group managed to finally get the bins approved.

The independent project is an assignment for a third year course titled Implementing Sustainable Change. In a course report from last year, Academic Sustainability Programs senior manager Kate Whalen wrote that the course encourages “interdisciplinary, community-based, student-led, and experiential education related to sustainability”.  The project itself encourages students to go out into the community and find a way to make a positive difference for sustainability.

The bins will be financed with part of a $15,000 fund provided to the Sustainability Education Committee by the Student Life Enhancement fund last year. The coalition also plans on printing infographics informing students how to properly sort their compost. As for the remaining sum, McGill said that the committee is “looking for student input on how it should be spent.”

When asked about the future of the initiative, Giannetti replied that her team hoped that after the MUSC bins are installed they can expand and implement compost bins across campus. McGill added that they “would love to get more student groups on board.” They emphasized that  improving sustainability can sometimes be a long process, but they hope that their success will motivate other groups to take action at further encouraging sustainability at McMaster.

“[I] love to work with other groups on campus dedicated to sustainability,” said McGill. She can be reached at

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