Two students from Lone Peak High School in Big Sky, Montana decided to divert their school district’s food and paper waste from the landfill. The students recognized the value of keeping this material out of the trash, and decided it was important to develop a system to make this possible. To accomplish this goal, they applied for a grant to purchase a composting system and contacted Green Mountain Technologies (GMT).
GMT provided the Big Sky School District with two Earth Cube in-vessel composting systems to process the volume of food and paper waste from Lone Peak High School and Ophir Elementary and Middle School. The two Earth Cube systems allow alternation between vessels: when one vessel is being loaded, the other is cooking. This two-batch setup simplifies the management of the systems.
In addition to design and installation, GMT was also invited to do on-site training at the school. Van Calvez, Composting System Designer and Engineer at GMT, presented to the K-3 students and all the middle and high school students. His presentation included information on how landfills work and why they are unsustainable. He also presented the concept of zero-waste and explained how the students could help the school work towards zero-waste goals.
Van also trained smaller groups of students/staff and teachers that would be responsible for managing the Earth Cube composting operations. Van instructed students and staff on the critical tasks required for effective food waste composting, in particular, covering the food waste with wood shavings, to prevent odors and pests.
GMT also consulted with Big Sky School District to help them set up a food waste diversion system in the cafeteria and determine all the tools need to manage the system effectively. This included galvanized metal buckets for food waste, clipboards, rubber gloves, pitchforks, wheelbarrows and wood shavings.
Less than two weeks after the start-up of the Earth Cube composting system, a teacher from the school reported the following, “I just wanted to let you know that our composting is cooking! We are up to 136 degrees!”
Another teacher commented, “The composter doesn’t stink!”