Campus Composting, Part 1: Rural, Urban and Beyond
College and university compost programs are one of the key elements to expanding waste reduction and zero waste efforts. Through in-house composting, an institution is able to not only divert materials from the landfill and process waste on-site, but benefit from the educational aspects for students, staff, and faculty. The production of compost for beneficial landscape application is an advantage to the institution. In addition, there is the improvement to landscape services in reducing the use of synthetic fertilizers and costs associated, contributing to more sustainable practices for campus grounds.
Appalachian State University has been composting on campus since 1999 and has grown and developed into one of the most successful programs in the country. The facility is permitted in the state of NC as a Type III compost facility, which has the ability to accept yard/garden waste, wood waste, pre and post-consumer food wastes including meats and dairy, as well as some manure and agricultural waste.
This presentation will take attendees on a journey through the years and history of the program. This began as a student initiative and a very grassroots approach to food waste collection. Through student efforts in a sustainable resource management course in the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment, and an independent study course in Sustainable Development, the compost program for Appalachian State University was cultivated. As the program grew and thrived, Appalachian collaborated with a local company and constructed an aerated static facility, in 2011, in order to further the commitments to successful organics collection. The presentation will showcase this facility and discuss the reasons we chose this type of operation for our campus.
This project has many value added benefits with regards to education. There are research opportunities for faculty and students including internship possibilities. We have hosted several educational tours for campus and local community groups, and we have many others travel from across the country to tour the facility and consult with our sustainability staff.
Through the development of this program, we identified many challenges and barriers to expansion. This presentation will discuss how we have worked to address these issues, including the key partnerships that have been developed over the years. We have made purchases of additional equipment to support our ambitions, and we will cover how we have garnered support toward this project and our overall zero waste commitment. This will educate the audience on issues that may arise as they work to develop their own efforts. From there we will present our plans for the future and ways in which we plan to continue to expand our efforts in order to bring us closer to zero waste.