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Modern Recycling, Daemen College implement student-designed organics composting program

by jmaloni

Press release

Wed, May 1st 2013 11:45 am

Modern Recycling of Model City (Lewiston) and Daemen College in Amherst announce a collaboration to recycle food waste and raise awareness about the value of composting as part of International Compost Awareness Week, May 6-12 (http://compostingcouncil.org/icaw).

"Daemen College is deeply committed to following best environmental management practices in all operations," said Daemen President Dr. Gary Olson. "Implementing campus organics recycling will enable the college to lead by example and promote environmental awareness locally and globally."

Students in Daemen College's spring 2012 sustainable design course were challenged with designing a system that would reduce the College's environmental impact. The response from students was to develop a plan to collect pre-consumer kitchen scraps from the college's dining hall and send them to a third party for processing into compost.

Kenzie Reynen, one of the students, took on the challenges of implementing the plan. She worked with Daemen food service director John Suckow to design an efficient system for separating food scraps from other waste, and placing them in wheeled carts for collection. Implementation stalled when they weren't able to find a hauler to transport the material to a compost facility.

Modern Recycling began its organics recycling service in the summer of 2012 to provide customers another service option in support of its customers' sustainability goals. Modern learned about Daemen's student project as it was developing its own collection and processing program, and saw the two programs fit well together. When students returned to campus in September, Modern started collecting Daemen's dining hall kitchen scraps. The program has continued since then.

"Creating the system was actually much easier than we anticipated," Suckow said. "We were already tossing those items in the trash, and now we have a system that takes it back to the earth."

Modern's cart-based program accepts food scraps like vegetable trimmings, fruit peels, stale breads and pastries and coffee grounds from commercial and institutional customers. The organic material is delivered to Modern's compost facility, where it is processed along with plant waste from Modern's H2Gro greenhouses.

"We believe interest in organics recycling programs will grow regionally just as it has nationally, because it's the next big step in recycling," says Modern's sustainability coordinator and educator, Katy Duggan-Haas.

Food scraps make up 14 percent of municipal solid waste discarded in the U.S. each year. Recycling food scraps into compost presents a significant opportunity to:

  • Reduce waste.
  • Convert waste into a value-added product - nutrient-rich soil amendment.
  • Improve soil structure and moisture retention for better crop and plant growth.

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