Each year, US colleges throw away an estimated 22 million pounds of food. That’s millions of pounds of useful resources being thrown in the trash, and millions of dollars spent to haul that food waste away.
While many schools and universities have some form of off-site composting program, that’s not the limit of what’s possible. There are even more exciting opportunities for schools to demonstrate their environmental leadership.
More and more campuses are choosing to close their ecological loop by bringing composting on campus. Not only does it help deepen their green, but it can help the bottom line. Here are just some of the ways that closed loop composting can improve your campus.
Closing the Ecological Loop
Today, many schools and universities do off-site composting. In this system, organics (food waste, soiled paper, landscape waste, etc.) are collected and taken off campus. A commercial composter company then composts this organic waste off-site and sells the finished product.
This is clearly better than throwing those valuable resources away.
So, while off-site composting is a big step forward, there are still some major inefficiencies. Schools pay to have the compostables taken away, and then pay again to have compost brought back on campus as fertilizer for the landscape. And transporting the compost back and forth wastes natural resources and creates pollution.
With closed-loop composting, that waste is eliminated. The food scraps generated on campus never leave the campus. Instead, food scraps and other organics are turned into compost on-site. That compost can then be used to grow food on campus, which is eaten on campus, generating more food scraps, which gets turns back into compost again, creating a full circle.
Here are just some of the benefits of bringing compost on campus:
On-campus gardens, farms and greenhouses are wonderful additions to any campus. Not only is gardening a proven stress reliever, but it’s also a great way to use your finished compost product. A college community garden or farm gives students access to fresh, nutrient-rich food that was grown on campus by students. For instance, the University of Maine has been able to get much of their dining hall salad greens from their very own garden. And when you actively involve students in the food cycle, composting, and gardening, you’re fostering a lifelong love of learning and sustainable living.
Lowering Your Composting Cost
While helping the environment should be reward enough, it’s great if you can save money as well. Many schools are discovering the efficiencies of closed-loop composting.
When The University of Maine first came to Green Mountain Technologies, the school were generating over 450 tons of food waste each year. For many years, UMaine paid to have these food scraps hauled off campus, then paying again to have high-quality soil amendments brought on campus for landscaping and gardening.
By installing one of Green Mountain Technologies 40-foot Earth Flow systems, they saved $32k a year, recouping their investment cost within five years.
Growing a “Greener” Image
Generation Z might just be the most environmental generation yet. As they make up the majority of undergraduate students, it’s no wonder that more colleges are looking for ways to demonstrate their environmental leadership. In fact, schools are even ranked now by their environmental performance.
Adding a closed loop compost system to your college or university is a great way to show potential students that your school is a leader in ecological sustainability. It also gives students an easy and practical way to experience sustainable living.
How to Bring Composting on Campus
If you’re interested in closing the loop, contact Green Mountain Technologies today. We’ve worked with universities all over the country to design custom composting solutions. Send us a message or give us a call at 802-368-7291 to learn more.
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