Bringing sustainability to the Olin dining experience

  • October 27, 2022
  • By Guest Blogger
  • 2 minute read

WashU Olin’s Bauer Café now offers nearly 100% compostable products for customers and has implemented a campaign to educate diners on how to properly dispose of waste in our dining spaces. While the team awaits delivery of some final products, Sue Ugalde, facilities project manager for WashU Olin, and Lara Harris, director of operations for Olin, wrote this post for the Olin Blog.

What can visitors to the Bauer Café expect to see?

Instructional signage already existed at Bauer Café waste stations. Visitors will see the addition of several compost receptacles to our waste stations with accompanying instructional signage. Bauer Café has also replaced all previous single-serve, disposable packaging with compostable service ware and utensils.  For visitors who wish to get closer to a zero waste experience, Bauer Café now offers reusable utensils.

Why is this happening?

The use of single-serve components has been a large source of landfill waste at Bauer Café. University compost collection reports, gathered by WashU’s Office of Sustainability, indicate that compost collection has increased by over 25 tons annually, most years, since compost collection began in 2010.  The university diverted over 375 tons of compost from heading to a landfill in 2019. Back-of-house (kitchens, serveries and food prep areas) composting has already been in place in the Knight Center kitchen and other Olin outlets, so we are broadening the scope.

What was the process to make this happen? 

Bringing compost service to the front of the house at Bauer Café has been an ongoing collaboration between Olin operations, Flik Hospitality, and the Office of Sustainability. We started this project prepandemic, but shutdowns, safety precautions and supply chain issues prevented Olin from fully realizing our plans until recently.

How does this fit into broader sustainability efforts at Olin or WashU?

Reducing, reusing and recycling are vital mechanisms of WashU’s sustainability effort. Waste reduction efforts are often the simplest ways in which our community can participate in sustainability goals. By offering compost at Bauer Café, we are raising awareness of our commitment to WashU’s Zero Waste goals, as well as asking our students to choose to be part of the effort.

What else do you want people to know about this?

Olin Operations has partnered the student sustainability groups, WashU Green Ambassadors (WUGA) and Net Impact, to train the Olin community on proper waste sorting at Bauer Café. Representatives from WUGA, Net Impact, and Olin’s own Sustainability Advisory Committee volunteered during two weeks of fall semester to guide our community in this effort. We will invite these green champions back frequently to remind our community and our guests of Olin’s zero landfill goal.

For more information on WashU’s Sustainability efforts and goals, check out these great resources on their website:

About the Author

Guest Blogger

Guest Blogger

From time to time we have professors, students, staff, alumni, or friends who are not regular contributors, but want to share something with the community. Be sure to look at the bottom of the post to see the author.

Contact Us

For assistance in finding faculty experts, please contact Washington University Public Affairs.

Monday–Friday, 8:30 to 5 p.m.

Sara Savat, Senior News Director, Business and Social Sciences


Kurt Greenbaum,
Communications Director

Twitter: WUSTLnews