Hello from Your Green Team,
 
Paper towels from restrooms provided a unique opportunity but also some very difficult challenges for our composting facility. Penn State's paper towels are certainly compostable, so it only made sense initially to capture them in our restrooms in compostable bags and work them through our system. 

Unfortunately, unlike typical organic waste, the (mostly) dry material arriving in bulk from the restroom bags quickly became impossible to manage at our outside facility. Loose paper towels were soon blowing off the site and on to adjacent properties. We essentially created a large-scale litter problem that required nine members of the waste management staff (and 25% of their time) simply to RE-capture each month.
For this reason, and for the time being, we are discontinuing the composting collection of paper towels FROM OUR RESTROOMS. Please note that paper towels and products (including napkins) can and should still be composted everywhere else on campus. While we regret having to landfill paper towels from our restrooms at this time, there is some consolation in the fact that these represent relatively little mass and volume in our stream. They are far outweighed by traditional food waste. Our hope is that our collection of heavier compostables will continue to increase as these represent the most significant portion (45%) of our waste.
 
If you have any questions, please contact recycle@psu.edu or tweet questions to @sustainPSU.
Sincerely,
Your Green Team 
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Penn State's Sustainability Institute | 108 Land and Water Building | University Park | State College | PA | 16802