June 27, 2023 | Composting, Food Waste, Soil Health

University Starts Up Food Waste Composter

Top: The Earth Flow™ in-vessel composter was recently installed at Rutgers University to process dining hall food waste with manure from the research farm on campus. Photo courtesy of Green Mountain Technologies

The Rutgers EcoComplex recently commissioned an automated in-vessel composting system for Rutgers University’s Cook Campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The campus is home of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. Food waste from the university dining hall and manure from the research farm are added to the Earth Flow™ In-Vessel aerated composting system from Green Mountain Technologies (GMT). The unit has capacity to process up to 30,000 pounds of campus compostable materials per month (about 1,000 lbs/day). “We’ve been exploring potential composting plans for the Cook Campus for many years,” explains Serpil Guran, director of the EcoComplex Clean Energy Innovation Center. “The new composting system will help us divert our cafeteria and animal waste from landfills, which is very important for Rutgers’ sustainability and climate change mitigation strategies. In addition, this project will serve as the first step in the creation of an organics recycling and reutilization Living-Laboratory.”

Previously, manure generated at the university’s farm was composted in static piles turned about once a week. The process took about six months. With the in-vessel unit, the composting time is expected to be about 28 days. An auger mixes and aerates compostable materials in a vessel similar to a shipping container. Odorous exhaust air is vented into a biofilter. Rutgers intends to test other feedstocks in the vessel, as well as conduct research on the finished compost. On-campus organics diversion recycling research and demonstration funding is provided by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, adds Guran.

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