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Digging Deep into Macy’s New Composting Program

POSTED UNDER Recycling & Waste Reduction

Composting is one of the easiest and most beneficial things you can do as an individual to reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment, according to Global Stewards. For large-scale organizations, though, composting can be a bit more challenging, but it's even more important to address due to the sheer volume of food waste involved. In our continuing quest to minimize our environmental impact and use resources efficiently, Macy’s is re-establishing a composting program in our downtown Cincinnati corporate offices. It’s off to a strong start, according to building services manager Sue Temple. “We had a composting program in the past, but it has not been available to us for about a year and a half, and we hadn’t been able to locate a viable partner to replace it,” said Temple. “Once we got this new program up and running, people picked up right where they left off, and we diverted 1,150 pounds of food waste in the first month alone.”

The new composting program kicked off in June after Macy’s intern Mike Fackler introduced Temple to David Andre at GoZero Food Waste Compost Courier Services. The original plan was to set up a composting program at the Progress Place corporate office location, but it quickly became apparent that the downtown site would also be a great place to pilot the program. Andre and Temple toured the spaces together, and then the GoZero team developed a plan.

At the Cincinnati corporate office, there are food waste collection bins in the primary areas where food waste is generated: kitchen prep areas, the employee dining room and employee brown bag room. Each bin is lined with a compostable liner to collect waste for pickup. Signs posted near the bins include details about what can be composted and reminders are placed on dining tables, encouraging employees to participate. “We already had regular dishes and silverware, so people are used to sorting and clearing off their trays. This is the logical next step. Instead of tossing food waste into the trash where it ends up in a landfill, we’re now diverting food waste into a useful material,” said Temple. And here’s something you might not know: While you can’t recycle paper towels, you can compost them.

Beyond the cafeteria and brown bag rooms, there also are smaller “collections” in each break room on two pilot site floors. “That helps,” said Temple. “People who bring their lunch and eat at their desks might not always have time to walk all the way to the cafeteria to compost, so this makes it easier for them.” And Associates are using them. “We might get to the point where we have them in all break rooms,” said Temple.

Associate response “has been tremendous,” according to Temple. “People are willing to champion it; to collect the compost from their areas. They understand the value. They’re inspired to do it and to spread the word. I’m a little surprised by the passion we’re seeing for the composting program.”

Composting on this scale is a relatively new practice, and it’s not available in many areas across the United States at this point, so additional Macy’s implementations will be on a site-by-site basis, based on availability and feasibility.

What Is Composting, Exactly?

According to, it’s simply the process of turning organic matter that’s ready for disposal into something beneficial. Organic materials, such as vegetable matter, eggshells, coffee grounds and tea bags, are placed in a suitable container or pile to decompose. Over time, they break down into a rich form of soil that is full of nutrients to do amazing things for your garden. “It’s very nutrient-rich; it revives plants. Using compost can extend the life of your garden and even boost production. I’ve seen another six weeks of tomato production, beyond everyone else’s season, on gardens that use compost,” Temple said.

 The benefits of composting include:

  1. Safely and effectively fertilize plants
  2. Save money on chemical fertilizers
  3. Boost food production and flavor
  4. Reduce the amount of waste being directed into our landfills
  5. Reduce waste management costs
  6. Reduce methane gas released into the atmosphere

Composting is not only good for the environment – it’s also cost-advantageous. “The more we can compost, the less we spend on trash pickup and disposal. We saw a substantial drop in our trash pickup costs with the previous program, and we’re tracking that with the new program, as well,” said Temple. “The more volume we get, the more cost-beneficial it will be.”

Temple pointed out another benefit to the composting program she’s noticed. “I think more about composting at home, too, because I’m thinking about it at work. I’m hoping that will be the case for other people as well – that more of us stop and ask the question ‘What’s going to happen to this if I throw it away? Is there something else I can do with it?’” she said. “I hope it inspires people to compost at home. It has such great benefits.”

Do you compost or use compost in your garden? Tell us about your experience.


You also might like:

Sustainable Container Gardening with Diana Russo
Simple Ways to Test and Treat Your Soil
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