University of Wisconsin–Madison


Composting signs

Pre- and post-consumer food waste collected on campus is taken to the West Madison Agricultural Research Station for composting. Pre-consumer waste is collected from the university dining centers and unions. Post-consumer compost collection sites are located in select locations across campus (see map below).

The project is a partnership between the Office of Sustainability, Facilities Planning & Management, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and University Housing.

The majority of the resulting compost is used for research programs at the agricultural research station. The rest is sold to bulk buyers and the funds are used to support the equipment needed to collect and process the waste.


  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Breads, grains, and pasta
  • Meat and small bones
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags
  • Egg shells
  • Napkins and paper towels
  • Wooden chopsticks


  • Plastic bags, plastic film, and food wrappers
  • Plastic utensils, cups, or containers (including those labeled as “compostable” or “biodegradable”)
  • Plastic-coated cups, plates, or take-out boxes
  • Styrofoam
  • Other non-food items

The windrow method of composting used at West Madison Agricultural Research Station cannot accept ANY plastics, including those labeled as “compostable” or “biodegradable.” Plastics are a huge contamination problem and can lead to compostable material being sent to the landfill. Please help keep plastic out of the compost!