Upon reading The Concordian’s Oct. 28 issue, we regret the CSU is misinformed about R4 Compost and is misleading the public.
R4 Compost is a multistake-holder project involving students and staff. Concordia University is responsible for composting operations, as it is for other waste management operations. Five students are responsible for the research, development and educational aspects of the project and coordinate a team of 60 student volunteers annually. With this project, the larger Concordia population benefits from evolving in an ecologically responsible community.
The project stems from an undergraduate biology student’s passion striving to divert organic waste from landfill. Other students joined in the effort and built a modest wooden composter at Loyola. In 2006, a larger worm-composting facility was established in the SGW greenhouse. Student-led waste audits revealed that more than 20 per cent of the university’s waste was organic. From there R4 proposed expanding to a 100-tonne Loyola-based composting facility.
Concordia is the first Quebec institution to compost on-site at this scale, highlighting the technical and educational challenges of this project; hence a five year implementation plan. R4 Compost acknowledges the financial contributions of Environment Canada, Recyc-Quebec, CCSL, Forces Avenir, Concordia University and the Sustainability Action Fund (SAF).
Students created the SAF to actively promote the culture of sustainability at Concordia. Upon review, the SAF board committed to a five-year contribution towards R4 Compost. In 2007-2008, the SAF contribution represented roughly 25 per cent of the start-up costs. This year, SAF funding will go towards research, development and education. This project succeeded due to the will and technical expertise of students as well as a strong partnership with the university, which is financially responsible for composting operations logistics (i.e. transportation, purchasing compostable bags, harvesting and using the compost for landscaping). Students are continuously dedicated to the advancement of this project. Engineering students drafted a composting facility design, a graduate student wrote an impact assessment, and another conducted a return-on-investment study. Presently, engineering students are working on automating the system.
R4 Compost is a respected leader and students gain invaluable work experience with us. Over 1,000 participants took part in free workshops and 60 institutions and businesses have benefited from our expertise. We have been featured over 50 times in the media (CBC, Radio-Canada, The Gazette, etc.) and have been recognized by Forces Avenir and the City of Montreal. R4 Compost is fulfilling its contractual obligations and will be leaving a lasting legacy to the Concordia community.