Maine: College of the Atlantic

Bar Harbor, ME

The College of the Atlantic is rated one of the top green schools and is the first carbon neutral college in America. Its primary focus is the relationships between humans and the natural environment. The College owns Beech Hill Farm, a 72-acre working farm 12 miles from the campus, where 4-5 acres of organic vegetables are raised as well as Community Gardens on the campus. Currently, compostable cutlery, eggshells and meat are being composted and only in moderation. All of the College's food "waste" is composted at the Community Gardens in a large walk-in bin constructed of old wood pallets. The finished compost will be used to enrich the soil in the adjacent gardens. Compostable food service ware products are used for large events such as graduation as well as for take-out containers in the dining hall. The college has found that composting of compostable food service ware, particularly knives, forks and spoons, is not effective as the compost piles have not reached high enough temperatures to digest these biobased products. Biobased cups, plates and bowls have been more successfully composted. The pile in the large walk-in bin is monitored by students using a compost thermometer and the temperatures recorded to track the progress of the composting process. The college expects to also resume composting at the farm after the development of a composting plan during 2010.

"This is a huge experiment for us, and we will work to improve the system as we continue this learning process."
- Lisa Bjerke, student responsible for composting food, Class of 2013

Products and Brands Composted: 

Used only at major events:

  • Compostable Plates
  • Compostable Bowls
  • Compostable Cups
  • Compostable Cutlery
Size of Operation: 

72-acre working farm
Community Garden, large walk-in bin constructed of wood pallets

Dollars and Sense: 

Free since own the sites.


The compostable cutlery is the biggest challenge for composting since they do not degrade easily. That is why they are used and composted in moderate amounts.


Craig Ten Broeck, Director of Sustainability
(207) 801-5686