Student Life

An update on Waste Not Want Not

Concordia campaign wants to make composting a university lifestyle by increasing compostable bins

Concordia’s first-ever compost campaign will be expanding their efforts this year, increasing both the number of bins available on campus and student awareness, announced one of the campaign’s founding members, Keroles Riad.

When Riad, a Ph.D student in the individualized program of engineering, started the “Waste Not, Want Not” compost campaign two years ago, there were only nine compost bins available at the University.

“This year, we are going to increase to about 60 compost bins around campus,” Riad said, adding that he’s also looking to show incoming Concordia students that making use of the compost bins is an established culture.

“We will have new students, and we don’t want it to be presented as something new that you need to make an extra effort, but more like, ‘This is the culture of Concordia,’” Riad said. “The most helpful thing students can do is to show that they are responding [to the campaign.] Riad said he was motivated to start the campaign two years ago after the university’s composter — which turns food waste into soil — malfunctioned. According to Riad, the machine, which had been purchased by Sustainable Concordia, was not properly maintained.

Now, Concordia has to ship most of its organic waste to a composting facility in Ontario. According to Riad, approximately 74 per cent of compostable waste from Concordia goes to a landfill.

Organic waste that ends up in landfills, Riad explained, can be harmful to the environment. “Organic waste in landfills [does] not become soil. It doesn’t decompose in a way that becomes soil again. It ends up emitting a lot of methane and pollutes water,” he said. “You can cut how much you have to send to landfills by half if you compost. The idea is not just to compost but to reduce waste, which is the ultimate goal.”

Seeking to improve Concordia’s composting situation, Riad contacted Peter Stoett, the director of the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre, and Roger Côté, the university’s vice-president of services. He said the goal was to start a composting campaign to help Concordia students and faculty make a productive change to help reduce waste.

“I was hoping to reach towards a better way of composting,” Riad said, adding that the campaign’s name comes from an expression used during World War II that advocates minimalism. “It’s a message to encourage people to reduce their waste.”

Available on Concordia’s website is a list of the locations of compostable bins on campus on Concordia’s website. By the end of last semester, there was a total of 27 bins total at the downtown campus and at the Loyola campus. According to Riad, it’s also possible to request a compost bin for any events happening on campus. The bins can be spotted by their orange lids, and they are usually placed alongside garbage and recycling bins.

Also available on the university’s website is a list of acceptable compostable items, including leftover food, paper, tissues, apple cores, fruit peels and brown paper bags. There are also examples of non-compostable items, notably anything plastic, such as coffee cup lids.

In addition to its benefits for the environment, Riad explained, the campaign also aims to transform organic matter into soil and fertilizer for food production. “We will be merging with the sustainability ambassadors program to ensure the sustainability of the campaign. The soil created from Concordia’s organic waste is distributed to gardeners and farmers to be used on their crops. It’s a question of caring enough to do it and spending an extra second at the waste station to put the stuff where they belong,” said Riad.

For more information about the university’s composting projects, visit Sustainable Concordia’s website, at

A call out for all interested volunteers to visit this website:  

Photo by Kim Gagnon

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