Queen's University

Colossal composters on campus

 
2009-11-24

Queen’s is the first Canadian university to install industrial-size composters capable of managing most of the organic waste produced on the campus.

“These composters will allow us to divert 95 per cent of the organic food waste on campus from landfills,” says Phil Sparks, Sodexo’s Resident District Manager of Food Services. “Leonard Hall alone produces four metric tonnes of organic waste a week, so the composters will have a major impact on reducing our carbon footprint.”

A year ago, a 100kg composter was installed in Leonard Hall as a pilot project. It reduced the weight of organic waste by 85 per cent in 18 hours, turning it into a soil supplement that’s being used on campus. Since then, two new composters were put in to replace the test pilot – one in Leonard Hall, the other in Ban Righ – each with a 300kg capacity and the ability to finish their cycle in 14 hours. The massive machines costing $100,000 each were donated to Queen’s by Sodexo.

The composters are part of a two-pronged strategy aimed at reducing and recycling the university’s organic waste. Purposely purchasing composters that can’t handle all the organic waste provides an opportunity to educate the campus community about food waste.

“We purchased equipment that can handle a significant portion of our organic waste, but not all,” adds Mr. Sparks. “Now that we have that in place, we are launching an education program to get students thinking about how much waste they’re producing so they can reduce it. Just because something can be recycled doesn’t mean we should use more.”

Bruce Giffiths, Director of Housing and Hospitality Services agrees.

“Some campuses are simply removing trays from the dining halls so you have to take less food,” he says. “We’re not interested in forcing choices on our students. We want them to have the power to make their own decisions and we want them to take that knowledge with them when they leave the campus community.”
 

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