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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.35
Liaison Ben Champion
Submission Date May 2, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Arizona
IN-24: Innovation A

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Benjamin Champion
Director
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Compost Cats Partnership with City of Tucson and San Xavier Cooperative Farm

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

Compost Cats has been a program of the Associated Students of University of Arizona since 2010. It is a program that uses paid student labor to compost organic waste of a variety of sources. It started as an initiative to compost food waste from the UA Student Unions. However, it has grown to be a municipal-scale composting program serving dozens of businesses and a number of special events throughout Tucson.

Student-led composting projects are fairly commonplace. What makes Compost Cats innovative and a model for others is the scale of its operation and the partnerships that have enabled this scale. Compost Cats has partnered with the City of Tucson Environmental Services division to become the official organics waste composting service for the City of Tucson. In exchange for this partnership, the University of Arizona has signed a three-year intergovernmental agreement with the City of Tucson, with the City providing $66,000 in funding to Compost Cats. While this alone does not fully support Compost Cats, it is a strong foundation to the Compost Cats budget and ensures its financial stability along with other revenue sources. With the City providing collection services for the dozens of business customers throughout Tucson, the Compost Cats can focus on managing the composting operation itself. At this point, Compost Cats is composting over 4.5 million pounds of organics waste per year.

The other major partner of Compost Cats is the San Xavier Cooperative Farm, part of the Tohono O'odham reservation at the southern edge of the Tucson metropolitan area. The Co-op is the site of the composting operation, which San Xavier provides to Compost Cats free of charge, as well as providing access to water as well as some heavy equipment necessary for the operation. In exchange, the Co-op receives 20% of the compost generated by the operation for the various farms that are members of the Co-op. These are mostly organic farms, often utilizing traditional cultivation techniques to grow food for the tribal community and to preserve their heritage of food production in our desert climate. This partnership is a proud part of Compost Cats, and adds a major social justice and social welfare component to Compost Cats outcomes.

The combination of these partnerships and the large-scale success of the Compost Cats operation are truly innovative and at a scale that is highly uncommon for a student-led initiative. The University of Arizona is very proud of its Compost Cats, and their aspirational goal of ending food waste in southern Arizona.


Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Campus Engagement
Public Engagement
Waste

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :
The website URL where information about the innovation is available :
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.