Composting at Unity College

Composting is a hot topic here on campus among both students and faculty. Since spring semester 2009, we’ve partnered with MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association) to process Unity’s compostable organic waste.  As of right now the college itself does not have the staff or infrastructure to manage such a process on site, but we are working on it.

We have two dining facilities on our campus, the cafeteria and the Student Center. Each generates a considerable amount of pre- and post-consumer waste that can be composted, so each dining area has been equipped with a compost bin. This semester the Constructive Activists Club got together and decorated the bins with beautiful white paint and labeled them with easy to read instructions for composters.

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The largest generator of organic waste is by far the cafeteria. Within the kitchen the employees do a wonderful job separating the pre-consumer waste, while the student body does an alright job separating their post-consumer waste on the dining side of things. Together there is on average over 100 pounds of compostable food waste generated each day. That’s over 100 pounds that is kept from the landfill and processed into compost from the cafeteria alone. The Student Center generates less than the cafeteria, but the same concept applies. More compost means less waste, less waste means more money saved.  Composting our organic waste allows us to avoid service costs by using fewer and smaller trash bins, also a reduction in our garbage bill by having a less frequent trash collection.

Not only does this make economic sense for the college, but environmental sense as well. For example, the decomposition of food and other waste under anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions in landfills produces methane, a greenhouse gas (GHG) 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Landfills are the largest human-related source of methane in the United States, accounting for 34 percent of all methane emissions. By composting we can divert organic waste from being incinerated or being swept under the rug in a landfill. Unity College should take pride in knowing that our organic waste is returned to the soil where it contributes in producing high quality organic vegetables. We will be documenting weights/measurements of the collected compost for cost-benefit analysis, and posting them on the blog so stay tuned!

If you have any questions, comments don’t hesitate to email me at Cfloyd07@unity.edu

Source: http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/organics/food/fd-basic.htm (2009)

Useful information:

Food Waste Management Cost Calculator
http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/organics/food/tools/foodcost.pdf

Putting Surplus Food To Good Use
http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/organics/pubs/food-guide.pdf

Composting in Resturants and Schools – A Municipal Toolkit
http://www.cetonline.org/Publications/res-schools-online.pdf

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About codyfl0yd

I'm a college student at Unity College in Maine, 21y/o, I'm perusing a bachelors in science; Sustainability Design & Technology. Currently I've been researching community wind projects, working with anemometers, and testing my head in environmental policy. I love live music, rockclimbing, bicycle riding, drawing, traveling, reading, and fishing from my kayak (RIP).