The University of Maryland is launching a semester-long composting pilot program this month for residents in on-campus South Hill apartments.

The Food Waste Prevention and Composting Pilot will give at least 10 South Hill apartments their own compost bins to sustainably dispose of food waste, Lisa Alexander, the resident life department’s sustainability programs coordinator, said. The Residence Hall Association, the sustainability office and the Department of Resident Life are spearheading the pilot.

According to Alexander, the main goal of the program is to “help students understand the role that they have within the waste cycle.”

Participants will receive a reusable and washable compost pail, a sample set of carbon filters, 20 compostable bags, a sponge for cleaning, an informational refrigerator magnet and a four-page booklet of educational materials, RHA’s sustainability coordinator Ilene Stark said.

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The educational materials will include information on how to compost, what is and is not compostable, ways to creatively use food scraps, recipes, cleaning instructions and the Food and Drug Administration’s Food Code, Alexander said.

The pilot program will encourage South Hill residents to better utilize the main compost collection bin that has been in Annapolis Hall for a few years, Alexander said.

The program already has eight interested participants, according to Stark.

Senior technology and information design major Anjali Verma, who lives in Allegany Hall, heard about the program from her resident assistant who sent out a message informing students of the opportunity.

“As soon as I read the message I was really interested because I’d always heard about composting. I knew what it was but I’d never tried it out and I’ve been wanting to deal with my waste in a more productive manner for a while,” Verma said.

Once the program launches, participants will receive monthly newsletters that include surveys to gauge the successes and challenges of the pilot, Stark and Alexander said. Students will also fill out an end-of-semester survey.

Sophomore government and politics major Mia Censoprano said she is excited to potentially join the pilot.

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“It’s gonna be so nice because you scrape your food leftovers into the compost bin and then just drop it off at Annapolis,” Censoprano said. “I think that’s really cool and we’ll definitely help the environment.”

Funding for the bins came from this university’s Green Terp Program, a partnership between the sustainability office and resident life department.

According to Stark, the leaders chose to start with just 10 apartments to keep the pilot small and controlled. If student feedback is positive, Stark wants to expand the program next year to the rest of this university’s on-campus apartments, she said.

“I’m super excited about it, composting is so important. So having students recognize that and help with that is going to be super rewarding,” Stark said.