SACKVILLE, N.B. — Mount Allison University took another leap forward in reducing its environmental footprint this month with the purchase and installation of two industrial food composters, which will compost all food waste onsite for use on Mount Allison grounds.
Dubbed ‘Big Hanna’ by its manufacturers, the two in-vessel composters are housed on the loading dock of Jennings Dining Hall and were funded by residence student fees and green budget money. It is estimated that the composters will be able to turn the 60,000 kg of food waste produced annually into approximately 20,000 kg of compost to be used across the university campus.
“The new composters are helping us to ‘close the loop’ on food waste on campus. Over the last few years, we’ve worked to grow some of the food served in the dining hall at the Mount Allison farm (last year we had 30,000 lbs of potatoes). It’s cooked, eaten, scraped, pulped, and composted at Jennings Dining Hall and then heads back to campus land as compost, ” director of administrative services Michelle Strain said.
Mount Allison grounds superintendent Andrea Ward adds, “We’ve been composting leaves and grass clippings on campus for years but this additional compost will really increase the volume — and quality — of compost we can use on campus. It’s extremely beneficially for Mount Allison in many ways, reducing waste and helping to beautify and nourish our campus and farmland.”
The university is also seeing significant cost and environmental savings, along with producing large amounts of nature’s gift to gardeners. Because food waste is composted onsite, it is no longer shipped to the landfill, reducing the transportation emissions, costs, and landfill space previously used.
The ‘Big Hanna’ project builds on an already extensive food waste reduction program in place at Mount Allison. In 2007 a plate scraping station was launched along with trayless dining, eliminating traditional trays used by students for decades. Both these measures saw a substantial reduction in the amount of food waste.
The university has also implemented policies in its food purchasing and has a campus-wide environmental policy, covering areas such as emission reduction, transportation, water, waste, food, paper use, grounds, and buildings.