Queen's University

Colossal composters on campus put Queen's ahead on the sustainability curve

 
2009-11-11

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 help us achieve a 95 per cent diversion rate,” says Phil Sparks, Sodexo's Resident District Manager of Food Services. “This means that 95 per cent of the organic food waste on campus is diverted from landfills by being composted. 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. The two new composters in Leonard and Ban Righ Halls have a 300kg capacity each and finish their cycle in 14 hours. The massive machines costing $100,000 each were donated to Queen’s by Sodexo.

“There was no cost for Queen’s; they were purchased by Sodexo as part of their sustainable investment in the campus,” says Bruce Giffiths, Director of Housing and Hospitality Services. “Sodexo is part of our campus sustainability group, and our team is constantly looking for new ideas. This technology only became available in the last year and it’s a perfect example of Queen’s being ahead of the curve on sustainability initiatives.”

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 our organic waste provides an opportunity to educate the campus community about food waste.

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

Mr. Giffiths agrees.

“Some campuses are simply removing trays from the dining halls so you have to take less food,” he adds. “We’re not interested in forcing choices on our customers. We want our students 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.”

For more information visit www.queensu.ca/sustainability.

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