October 25, 2006 | General

Editorial: Campus Composter Of The Day

BioCycle October 2006, Vol. 47, No. 10, p. 4
Nora Goldstein
Dynamic. That is probably the best word to describe BioCycle’s report in this issue on Food Residuals Recycling At Institutions. Not only are the programs dynamic, but so is the level of activity. And no where is this more dramatic than on college and university campuses.
A case in point is Table 2 in the article titled “College, University And Correctional Facility Composting,” starting on page 36. The entire October issue was at the printer. I was scrolling through the In Box of my emails, and came across an unread email from July 7th. The email was from Pat Kaufman, University of Washington Program Operations Manager. Kaufman was responding to a July 6th posting on the Recyc-L list serve, requesting that colleges and universities let us know about campus food residuals composting programs. I scrambled and was able to add the University of Washington to Table 2.
I took a break for lunch and when I came back, Jerry Goldstein asked me to take a look at a draft article from Jenna Jambeck, Research Assistant Professor in the Environmental Research Group, Department of Civil/Environmental Engineering at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. The title of the draft article is, “Food Waste Composting at UNH.” The university’s food residuals composting program got underway in 1998. Materials were brought to an existing animal waste composting operation at Kingman Farm on UNH property.
One interesting bit of information I’ll divulge from the upcoming article by Professor Jambeck and her colleagues is that the program has evolved into a “strong and successful” partnership among the UNH Office of Sustainability, Hospitality Services, the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, Kingman Farm, and the Durham community. The collaboration between academic and support services departments, under an umbrella of sustainability, was a repeating theme as we searched college and university websites for composting program leads. What was once an offshoot of a campus paper and container recycling program, or an initiative between the physical plant staff and an academic department, has blossomed into an integrated resource management mantra.
This is exciting on a number of different levels, starting with student exposure to – and participation in – food residuals recycling. Campuses are becoming a breeding ground, we hope, of future households that know how feasible food residuals diversion is (not to mention recycling, energy and water conservation, zero waste and on and on). Next are the academic opportunities that cross so many disciplines, from hospitality and nutrition to engineering and biology. A number of the programs incorporate composting into an on-campus organic farm; in one case, the food service company purchases fresh produce grown in the garden, a real loop-closer!
And back to dynamic. We see Table 2 in this issue (as well as Table 1 that lists correctional facility food composting programs) as a “first shot across the bow.” We know there are many more programs going on that we didn’t uncover in the time frame of our initial survey effort. Therefore, we are taking our data collection live, via the The tables in our special report are posted on the website and will be added to and/or updated as we learn about new projects. This will be the case not just for food residuals composting at institutions, but also for the listing of composting facilities processing food residuals to be published in December 2006. Please help us fill in data gaps by checking the website page regularly and emailing us additions.

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