Duke began composting food waste in 2002. All of the dining facilities on campus currently compost pre-consumer food waste (with the exception of one eatery that lacks space for a composting bin).

Three of the campus eateries, The Marketplace, The Great Hall, and The Refectory at Duke Divinity, have also initiated programs for post-consumer composting. At The Marketplace, 100 percent of pre-consumer food waste and 90 percent of post-consumer food waste are successfully composted. In The Marketplace and The Great Hall, food waste is composted by staff when it is left on plates.

Currently, all compostable material that is collected in campus compost bins is composted by Brooks Contractor, a private large-scale composter in Goldston, NC.  In 2010, Duke sent approximately 602,520 pounds of food waste to Brooks Contractor.


Duke University Grounds Unit strives to use all yard waste as compost. Grounds has installed mulching kits on all mowers to chop and recycle turf clippings. The mowers are also used to mulch the leaves in the fall, returning micro and macro nutrients to the soils and feed the turf, eliminating the need for some fertilizers.

Small limbs and shrub pruning are run through a chipper, creating mulch that is used on older landscapes and in groves. Tree contractors, which use larger chippers, do not remove any of the chips from Duke property, instead leaving them for the Grounds Unit to use on future projects or older landscapes.

Grounds has generously donated leaf mulch to the Duke Campus Farm to support healthy soil and thriving plants.