Waste not, want not on big scale

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Composting is nature performing a magic trick: take what is generally deemed waste and, voila, transform it into what’s considered black gold by gardeners.

Well, maybe it’s not done in a flash, but it is a pretty slick turnaround. It’s one of the best means communities have of reducing waste and it’s encouraging to see a giant step in this regard from one of the region’s universities.

Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., has set up two industrial-size composters, capable of turning an estimated 60,000 kilograms of food waste from the cafeteria annually into about 20,000 kg of compost. As a bonus, the finished product is used as a soil adjunct around the campus, including to help grow some vegetables.

How’s that for a lesson in waste management, full circle from food waste to food production, along with great visuals. With any amount of luck, even students not directly involved will absorb this principle.

Many people in rural areas know this lesson first-hand and their gardens and fields have been benefiting from compost for decades, in fact, centuries.

We’re fortunate in our communities, towns included, to have the green bin system in place, since not every household has the space to set up a compost system at home. As the province continually moves to cut down on waste going to landfills, it’s a huge piece of the strategy.

Such pickup is fairly simple at typical households. But as we’ve seen recently, challenges are encountered when it comes to apartment buildings, businesses, restaurants and such.

Most people want to help in this regard – based on the premise that no one wants a landfill in their backyard. Plus, strict requirements make today’s landfills costly – meaning a tax burden as new ones are constructed.

This project at Mount A provides not only first-hand experience for those using it, but a model for composting on an institutional scale.

How to compost should be second nature for everyone, rural and urban.

Organizations: Mount Allison University

Geographic location: Sackville

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