Partnering with Schools

From composting in the lunch room to taking a school to zero waste, we can get you there!


  • On average, schools send over 50% of lunch waste to be composted instead of landfill.

  • Depending on program changes, landfill trash bags are cut down by 50% to 80%.

  • Landfill dumpster pickups are reduced by 25% to 60%.

  • Custodial/engineer staff end up having less work.

  • Students learn & participate in waste diversion.

“It’s a win-win situation”

- Omaha Public Schools' District Communications

Who We Work With

  • Louisville Public Schools

  • Duchesne Academy

  • Fontenelle Elementary School (OPS)

  • Nelson Mandela Elementary

  • Gomez Heritage Elementary (OPS)

  • Concordia Jr./Sr. High

  • Dundee Elementary (OPS)

  • Central Park Elementary (OPS)

  • Crestridge Elementary (OPS)

  • Bancroft Elementary (OPS)


Composting is Nature’s Version of Recycling

Instead of taking a can of pop and turning it into a new can of pop, composting takes food and turns it back into soil for which new food grows from. As the area’s only commercial composting farm, our company can compost food waste, wet paper, napkins, and cardboard; yard waste; and compostable service-ware.

We take your waste and turn it into nutrient dense soil that gardeners and farmers use throughout our community.


Methane, Leachate, and Space

Reason 1 - METHANE: Over half of what’s in the landfill is compostable. A common misperception is that these materials pose no harm in the landfill because they simply break down into dirt. But in reality, landfill materials are compacted with a layer of dirt each day, which creates an anaerobic environment.

This is a fancy way of saying: oxygen can’t get to compostable materials — which is needed to break them down — so a head of lettuce can take 10-25 years to decompose. In the meantime, it’s putting off methane gas, which is 80 times worse than CO2. 

Reason 2 - LEACHATE: Alongside that, the water from our food mixes with everything else in a landfill, which produces a toxic sludge called leachate. Sometimes this sludge makes it into our waterways, which kills off fish and plants while tainting our drinking water.

Reason 3 - SPACE: Finally, landfill’s take up space. Since most people don’t want a landfill near where they live, opening new landfills is very difficult, not to mention expensive.

On the other hand, compost farms convert material into soil which is then distributed around the community.


Smell, bugs, and rodents are the most common concern for new partners. But the good news is, there’s plenty of schools and dozens of businesses composting with us, and it’s not an issue. Here’s why:

  • We sanitize the totes! During warm months, we use a high-powered, high-heat can washer to sanitize them. Our mechanism captures the water, so we don’t leave a mess at your school. During cold months, we provide plastic bag liners each week. After we empty the tote, we toss the bag and insert a new one.

  • Animals can’t get in! Because of the way the lid sits on the lip, animals can’t get in. But if prefer, we can always lock or clamp the lid shut.

  • Use one-a-day! Since most schools just use our totes in the cafeteria, we suggest dedicating one clean/empty per day.



ANALYSIS - Can We Do this?

  • Four Pillars: Get support from admin, kitchen, engineers, and sustainability advocate.

  • Audit: Review waste and identify landfill diversion opportunities.

  • Define Scope: Just adding composting or going zero waste?

  • Convert: Can school switch to recyclable, compostable, and/or reusable materials?


ORGANIZE - Make it Simple

  • Correct Colors: Blue = Recycling; Green = Compostables; Black = Landfill.

  • Correct Signs: Use examples of packaging & food waste being consumed.

  • Staging: Determine where bins go and how they’ll be ordered.

  • Schedule: Pick launch and orientation dates.


LAUNCH - Give the “Why”  

  • Orientation: Hillside will present new program to students/staff, giving overview of what composting is, what happens in a landfill, why we compost, and how it works.

  • Assistance: For the first week, Hillside will provide staffing to help students place waste into correct bins and work towards a long-term solution.

  • Data: We’ll weigh your waste streams and provide a report on your diversion efforts.


We take the contents to Soil Dynamics, which is Omaha area's only commercial composting farm in Ashland, NE. There, we turn it into clean nutrient dense soil that gardeners & farmers use throughout our community.


A social media post that went viral with 266 shares.

Partnering with Hillside Solutions to launch our composting program at Fontenelle Elementary has been amazing! We all knew composting was cool, but none of us predicted just how much waste we’d be able to divert from the landfill. We went from 210 bags of landfill waste in 7 days down to 21. Half of all the waste produced is now being turned into soil instead of putting off methane gas in the landfill. We used to have daily dumpster pickup, and now we’re down to twice a week. And best of all, our whole school has a great sense of pride for what we’re doing and the students are getting to participate and learn about a waste diversion effort that will have an immeasurable impact for decades to come
— Fontenelle Elementary School Principal Eric Nelson
 Front page of the Omaha World Herald. Click to view.

Front page of the Omaha World Herald. Click to view.

‘The custodians, I thought for sure, would be like, ‘Vickery, you’re killing us,’ the Fontenelle fourth-grade teacher said. But Vickery said the head engineer has been amazed at the trash reduction.
— Quote from Omaha World Herald's front page story
It’s actually fun, because when you do it, it’s actually helping the whole world.”
— Fontenelle fourth-grader Daniyah Thompson
 OWH Editorial Staff endorses Hillside's OPS composting program. Click to read.

OWH Editorial Staff endorses Hillside's OPS composting program. Click to read.

Adopting a composting program involves startup costs and kinks that need to be addressed, but schools have shown they can manage the transition.
— Omaha World Herald Editorial Staff
 WOWT Channel 6's coverage of Fontenelle's compost program. Click to view.

WOWT Channel 6's coverage of Fontenelle's compost program. Click to view.

Hillside was extremely helpful in welcoming us into this new effort to reduce our landfill waste. Time and again we hear from our students that they recognize the value in composting, they feel it has brought our school community together, and they are eager to address waste reduction both at school and at home. We have heard from many parents who are also changing their habits at home to recycle more and explore composting as an option. Everyone at Hillside has been a real pleasure to work with. They are easy to reach, responsive to our needs, and supportive of our efforts.