Over the last few years nothing has generated more discussion in Committee for Environmental Responsibility (CER) meetings than how to dispose of our food waste.
Let me give you a brief history…
In 2008 CER hired a consultant, Niche Recycling, to do a waste audit to determine how much we were really sending to the landfill. Turns out quite a bit. Food waste alone was running over 4,500 lbs. That’s almost two tons folks!!
To help offset this, CER agreed to compost pre-consumer waste. For 18 months, three times a week, the front end loader picked up pre-consumer waste and composted it.
During this time, CER was working with Niche Recycling to bring in-vessel composting to campus. In-vessel composting officially defined is: “The aerobic decomposition of shredded and mixed organic waste within an enclosed container, where the control systems for material degradation are fully automated”. Sound expensive?? Yup!
CER was not deterred by this fact, we figured where there’s a will, there’s a way. Vendors were brought in to look at the dining center to find out what was feasible. Turns out that the dining center is “old” and would not support a lot of the technology.
So, where are we now?
A year or so ago we went trayless. Studies suggest that going trayless reduces food waste up to 30%. It’s always better to reduce before you recycle.
And, we’re still tracking. Better Together, a Quaker Interfaith Group, collected food waste as part of an awareness initiative. Their findings were astounding. Over 600 lbs per day!
The latest endeavor brings Bryn Mawr College into the mix. Because of consumers demanding greener alternatives to landfills, waste companies are starting to offer programs where they will pick up food waste and take it to composting facilities. On March 19th, 2012 Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges will be working with Republic Waste Services on another trial to see how the two colleges can work together to help solve this issue.