Composting FAQ's

Here's everything you need to know about composting at Pomona College. If you have any other questions about composting, please email us at


Where can I compost on campus?

You can compost food waste at the dining halls and the Coop Fountain.

What can I compost on campus?

All food waste (that means fruits, veggies, meat, dairy, grains, everything!). PLEASE, no napkins, paper goods, or bioplastics!

Wait, why can’t I compost my paper to-go box or plastic cup that says “compostable”??

Unfortunately, those items are only industrially compostable. They take too long to biodegrade in a natural compost facility.

Where does my food waste go?

Food scraps from the kitchens are picked up by student compost drivers and are composted at the Farm. Food waste sorted at the dish return station is picked up by the City of Claremont and taken to a compost facility owned by Athens Services in Victorville, CA (about 60 miles northeast of campus).

What happens if the compost is contaminated with non-compostable items?

We try to salvage the food waste by picking out non-food items by hand (forks, wrappers, plastic gloves). But if there’s too much contamination, unfortunately, everything has to go into the trash.

How is the Farm’s food waste processed?

Students who work at the Farm build compost piles by mixing the food waste with wood chips (tree trimming waste from campus) and aged manure from a local farm. The pile is turned either by tractor or with pitchforks to maintain aeration and stimulate microbial activity, which will naturally heat up the pile to between 140-160°F. These temperatures speed decomposition and kill any pathogens or harmful microbes in the food waste. After 1-2 months, the material becomes very uniform, with little or no recognizable food waste remaining, and after 4-6 months the compost is fully decomposed and ready to use.

How is the Farm’s finished compost used?

The compost is used as a soil amendment and fertilizer to replenish the Farm’s soil. In addition to providing nutrients for crops, compost also improves soil structure, increases the water storage capacity of the soil, and promotes a healthy community of beneficial soil microorganisms. Some of the compost is also used as a soil additive across campus.

How is the City program’s food waste processed?

Athens Services uses windrow-style composting. Food waste is piled up and has aeration tubes underneath to promote an aerobic environment for faster composting. The piles are covered to capture greenhouse gases and use that as an on-site energy source. The piles are rotated every month, and finished compost is produced after 3 months.

How is the City program’s finished compost used?

Athens Services certifies the compost as a high-quality, organic material and sells it to local farmers.

Why should I compost?

It reduces food waste and turns it into a nutrient-dense soil supplement for local farms! It also prevents greenhouse gases from being emitted by food waste in landfills!