Composting Strategies for Colleges and Universities

September 11, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


>>Melissa: Good afternoon and welcome to
today’s web seminar. I’m Melissa Pennington from EPA Region III in Philadelphia. I’ll
be moderating today’s session and we’ve got Jorge Burgos, from Region I in Boston providing
technical support. We developed this Webinar to provide information on how to either develop
or enhance your own on-site composting systems. This effort was designed really to support
the food recovery challenge but also to assist anybody who is, who wishes to recycle instead
of trash their food scraps.>>Melissa: We’re happy to have so many of
you participating. We have over 300 people registered and that’s really great. Today’s
Webinar is two hours in duration and it’s designed to provide practical and technical
information to help you develop or enhance your on-site composting system. Again, I’m
Melissa Pennington, EPA Region III and I’ll be moderating today’s Webinar. So, EPA has a national work group that’s known
as the sustainable food management work group which I am a member of. There are people from
EPA regional offices all over the country participating but specifically, I lead an
EPA team that’s tasked with increasing the amount of composting that’s happening in this
country so this includes anywhere from large commercial operation to smaller scale community-based
projects as well as backyard composting and on-campus composting. So if there’s anyone
out there that wants to compost their food residuals, it’s my job to try and make sure
that they either have the tools they need to develop their own composting program or
that there’s economically feasible options for off site composting and in a lot of areas
of the country, that is not the case still. So, we’ve got a lot of work to do. Although
we’ve developed this Webinar specifically with colleges and universities as our target
audience, you know, there’s all kinds of organizations that are interested in developing their own
on-site smaller scale composting operations and they could all benefit from the information
that’s going to be presented today. EPA really strives to support all would-be composters
so if you’re not representing a school today, please let us know that. We’re glad
that you’re participating. We’re filling out the survey at the end. Just provide the
best answers for your organization and we’ll be able to tell who you are. So with that, I was told that one of the things
that I had to do was present this disclaimer to you all. This disclaimer is going to apply
to all of the presentations you see today. They’re not just mine. Basically what it says
is EPA is not endorsing any particular product or brand so nothing you see or hear today
represents an official EPA endorsement. If you wish, you can read the entire thing but
that’s what it says basically. So I’m going to take just a little bit of
time to talk about what drives people to initiate a composting program. So first of all, here’s
our landfill. Not too long ago, that’s where all of our waste went in this country, everything
went to the landfill but slowly and believe it or not beginning about in the 1960’s, Americans
began to realize that this, this may not be the best idea. It, it’s not only a bad idea
for numerous environmental reasons but we will run out of landfill space. We will especially
if we continue with the current disposal practices. So based on 2010 data, approximately 33 million
tons of food were disposed of in the landfill that year. And, that’s just not acceptable,
33 million tons of food. Over the last 10 years or so, we’ve done, we’ve done a good
job reducing the amount of recyclables that were sent to landfills and that is really
great. We do not, we do not want any recyclables ending up in landfills but we could do better
on that front but really food is the next frontier. It is the next big segment of the
waste stream that is being targeted for diversion and with good reason because food should really
be thought of as a national resource, a natural resource, not a national resource and not
a waste. We are currently diverting only a very small
percentage of food scraps from landfills, approximately, a little less than 3 percent
based on 2009 data and as with other recyclable materials, food should never ever go to a
landfill if at all possible in my opinion. So that moves us on to the next slide and
I just threw this up there because I wanted you to see this represents the different materials
that make up all of the municipal solid waste disposed at the landfills in this country
and this is 2010 data and you can see that food is the single largest component at 21
percent and to me, this means that we have a very big opportunity to limit the amount
of food that goes to landfills and to really make a difference in that area. Recycling a significant amount of food can
have a really big impact. That’s why I wanted to show you that slide. I mentioned EPA’s
sustainable food management work group earlier. The mission of that national work group is
to advance sustainable food management practices throughout the United States by preventing
and diverting food waste from landfills. There are many ways that EPA is working on this
mission. In order of preference, food waste is prevented from being generated in the first
place. Once food is created and not eaten then it would be best to donate it to feed
people followed by feeding animals, for use for industrial purposes and then recycle by
composting, that should say anaerobic digestion I believe and then as a last resort, incineration
or landfilling and of course today our focus is composting. So I just wanted to give you a little information
about the food recovery challenge. It is by far the most visible effort of EPA’s sustainable
food management work group. More information on the food recovery challenge can be found
at that website you see at the bottom of the screen. The food recovery challenge in a nutshell
is an EPA initiative where participants commit to reducing food waste reaching landfills
through prevention, donation, and composting or anaerobic digestion. Increasing the amount
of composting happening in this country is really critical to the success of the food
recovery challenge and that’s where you guys come in. The food recovery challenge is an EPA program
that provides technical assistance like today’s Webinar as well as recognition of efforts
you make to reduce food wastes reaching landfills. Colleges and universities in particular, generate
a fair amount of, of wasted food from many different sources, from dining halls, on-site
campus restaurants or cafes, resident halls, sporting venues, big university events, all
of these things generate food wastes. EPA works with schools every day to secure both
the food recovery challenge commitment of reducing food wastes, but also to help these
universities achieve those goals. Developing, development of a food composting
program is a really, really great way to reduce or eliminate food wastes on your campus. There
are currently over 100 colleges, universities participating in the food recovery challenge
and you can get more detailed information on the food recovery challenge on our website
which is shown at the top. But like I said earlier, if you don’t memorize this website,
that’s fine. You could always just Google food recovery challenge and it comes right
up. Please contact me. There’s my contact information,
Melissa Pennington. I’m at EPA Region III. There’s my phone number and my email. Please
contact me if you’re interested in EPA’s food recovery challenge and I will put you in touch
with the right people to get you started. There’s different individuals in all the different
regions that are working on recruiting colleges so I can get you in touch with those people
to get you started if you’re interested and now, I’d like to go ahead and move on to our
featured speakers. So Jorge, if you wouldn’t mind moving the presentation over to Peter,
that would be great and I will go ahead and start introducing him. Our first presentation is intended to provide
technical information needed to plan and develop your campus composting operation. Our presenter
is Peter Moon of O2 Compost and I first heard about Peter Moon from Laura Cassidy who started
an on-site composting operation at the Philadelphia Prison Complex here in Philadelphia. Laura
could just not say enough good things about Peter and how valuable his assistance was
to them in getting started and I thought at the time, you know, I really got to meet this
guy and so I did meet him at the US Composting Council’s annual conference last year in Orlando
and he did not disappoint me. I, at that conference and then again at a
later Webinar, I’ve heard Peter’s presentation on aerobic static piles and I knew that he
was really the right expert for this Webinar. So Peter is a licensed civil engineer in the
state of Washington with over 24 years of hands-on composting experience. He’s the founder
and president of O2 Compost that specializes in compost system design and operator training.
With a focus on keeping it simple, Peter and his staff designed aerated compost systems
all varieties of organic residuals for all scales of operation. Over the years, Peter has developed a reputation
for designing highly effective on-campus compost systems for processing food wastes, landscaped
debris, as well as mixed paper products. By eliminating the transportation component,
Peter believes that on-campus composting goes a really long way to help colleges and universities
meet their sustainability goals and that’s of course what we’d like to help you do to
meet your sustainability goals. So with that, I’ll go ahead and turn the presentation
over to Peter. Welcome, Peter.>>Peter: Okay, great. Thank you. Can you
hear me okay?>>Melissa: I can hear you. I’m going to go
ahead and mute myself.>>Peter: Okay and can you see my presentation
on the screen?>>Melissa: Yes.>>Peter: Okay, fantastic. Thanks, Melissa
and before we get started, I’d like to just acknowledge the work and efforts with the
EPA and their food recovery challenge. Melissa’s participation in this process has been invaluable.
I’d like to also thank the other speakers who will follow me today but most importantly
I’d like to thank all the folks who are attending this live presentation as well as those who
will visit later and review the recorded program. As Melissa said, I’ve been involved in composting
for quite some time, about 25 years now and I started my business in 1996 and since that
time, we’ve developed compost systems for clients in the agricultural, municipal, industrial
and institutional arenas, universities, being institutional of course and we work with all
types of food feed stocks in all scales of operation and at this point, we have systems
in all 50 states, in all the Canadian provinces and eight other foreign countries which is
to say it answers the question for me can this be done and is what I will be talking
about today have universal application and the answer is most certainly yes. The goals that I have for today in this presentation
is to provide some basic information about composting in general and more specifically
on aerated static pile composting and I will explain what that means and why I believe
that’s important. I will also be showing many examples of small and medium scale on-campus
compost systems and ultimately I want to answer the question how do we get started in all
of this. Certainly there are some logistics and some planning and some commitment that
is required to do this so with that, let’s get started. Raw feed stocks, in this case food waste,
if you haven’t been around it, it can be quite challenging to work with. Here’s kind of a
full spectrum of materials, bread, and vegetables and rice and coffee grounds and lots and lots
of water. We go through a composting process, in this case it’s a free standing aerated
static pile but this simply represents the manufacturing process of composting with the
goal of yielding a high quality finished product that can be used as a soil amendment or as
mulch depending on the quality of that product. So there are several methods of composting
and most people are familiar with what we refer to as turned pile or turned windrow
composting and this is where a piece of equipment of some kind or even a shovel is used to periodically
turn the pile and incorporate air back into the system. I’m going to have to get rid of
that. Another version of a turned windrow system is with this tow behind windrow turner
driven with a tractor, PTO driven with a tractor as you see and then on a larger scale and
certainly more expensive system, a straddle type windrow turner such as this. This has
really become quite common on the municipal and industrial scales of operation. You see in this picture, this is a free standing
aerated static pile. Basically aerated static pile composting simply means we are inducing
air flow into the pile to maintain aerobic conditions to optimize the biology of that
system and we are not turning it in the first 30 days or so of the composting process. Smaller
example, smaller system, this is a three-bin system on a horse farm in Snohomish, Washington
where I reside. This is a project that we did in conjunction with another company here,
locally barn . Here’s an even smaller system. This is what
we call our micro bin system. It’s perfect for pilot projects in small scale operations.
To jump ahead for a moment, this is the perfect place to get started, very inexpensive, very
reflective of the much larger scale systems. So institutional aerated static pile composting
systems, this is the project that Melissa was referring to, Philadelphia Prison. You
can see that there are three bays here. Each one is receiving and processing materials.
This is done sequentially and I have a schematic sequence of slides that will explain basically
how that works but this is facilitating composting food waste generated by 300, excuse me, 900
prisoners but they’re going to be expanding it to about tenfold here in the next year
or so. This is another penitentiary in Washington
State, a somewhat larger system. This is a hospital, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, about
an 80-acre facility in New York and they process mostly landscaping wastes at this point but
they’re sticking their toe in the water for food waste coming out of their kitchens as
well. This is a project we did many years ago with the US army Joint Base Lewis-McChord,
JBLM in Washington and you can see the structure that they had here. It’s all under cover and
this is an example of the pilot project that we worked with. This is all varieties of organic
waste generated on at that facility with a population ranging upwards of 100,000 people. On a much, much smaller scale, this is University
of Washington; excuse me, Washington State University. I’ll get shot for that. Washington
State University research project, I work closely with them. They’re doing biosolids,
research fate of antibiotics in composting as well as pharmaceuticals and so even a simple
system like this can be very effective at research. This is a project, this is a really
fun project, that I did with Syracuse University and the students with the green campus initiative,
this was a grant project where they applied for and I, I gave them the equipment package
so that they can conduct it and this is uh, something where they have shown a tremendous
amount of enthusiasm and starting with one kitchen and expanding to the university
as a whole. This is another project on not institutional
but it is a restaurant in New York City and it’s very much part of the urban sustainability
movement which has been really exciting to be a part of. We have many systems in New
York City and these are the bins. They’re actually on a, on a rooftop. You can see the,
the street below here and considering their location, the fact that they’ve been able
to mitigate any impacts from odor or leachate or, or vectors has been really a, a fun case
study. So take a minute and look at some of the principles
and parameters of the composting process. First and foremost, it’s important to recognize
that this is a biologically mediated process. There are microorganisms and macro organisms
that are doing a tremendous amount of work for us and to learn more about about this
side of it, I would encourage everyone to, to do a search for soil food web and it will
teach you a tremendous amount about all the various organisms that help us sustain our
lifestyle. So in the composting process, there is a succession
of microbial communities during composting. We begin with mesophilic bacteria and they
break down the sugars and starches. They’re the ones who really get the party started,
get the heat going in the pile and very quickly after initiating the composting process, they
are replaced by the thermophilic bacteria which simply means that the temperatures within
the pile are somewhat over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. They take over and they start working on proteins,
fats, cellulose, and hemicellulose within the mix and then after about the first
30 days of composting or so, the bacteria in the system transition more into a fungal
community and it’s the fungi and the actinomices that are very, very important to produce the
finished product. These are the ones that are working on the more resilient forms of
carbon, the hemicellulose, the cellulose and the lignant, the woody materials in the finished
product. Of course we have to be concerned about pathogens
in the mix. E. coli, salmonella as indicator organisms and it’s with controlling the heat
of the composting process that we’re able to destroy these to levels that are acceptable
from a risk analysis perspective. I’ll talk more about that here in a few minutes. So the composting process can be really broken
down into several very simple steps. First, we begin with the mix and I’ll talk more about
the mix here in a minute. Once we have prepared a proper mix, we induce oxygen or incorporate
oxygen. The byproduct of a composting process is water, heat, and carbon dioxide. We’re
using the heat to destroy pathogens in the mix as well as any parasites and weed seeds.
It’s important to reduce a product that is safe to use and convenient to use. If you
use or sell a product full of weed seeds, you’ll only do that once. You’ll never sell
it again. It does take time. It is a time-oriented system.
Rule of thumb, the active phase of composting is about 30 days. It will vary depending on
the feed stocks but for rule of thumb, it’s about 30 days and then we go into a curing
phase which is an additional 30 to 60 days or so. During this process, we are converting
the nutrients into stable forms so that they are slow-release and the key to all of this
is the microorganisms, the beneficial microorganisms and the organic matter that we are reintroducing
into the soil to recreate life in the soil. So I’m looking at the mix. There are four
critical parameters. The first is the carbon to nitrogen ratio or more universally put,
the nutrient balance in the mix. The carbon nitrogen is very important – the rule of
thumb, about 30:1. You can determine this in the laboratory but
really it depends. You need to develop an eye for what is a good C to N ratio mix
in the field. Another key parameter is the porosity which is the volume of void space
in the material. We do that with a very simple bucket test to determine both density and
free airspace. If anyone listening is interested in these protocols, you can certainly contact
me through our website. I’ll provide that at the end and I’d be happy to send you those
those sheets of information. Also a very important parameter is the moisture
content. We’re shooting for 60 to 65 percent moisture content in a simple field test. It’s
a squeeze test where if you grab a handful of your mix and you squeeze it very, very
tightly, you can get maybe a drip or two to come out or a bead of water to form between
your fingers. That’s about what we’re shooting for and in the fourth parameter is we want
a homogenous blend of materials. We do not want stratification if we can help it and
that’s so that we get uniformed airflow through the mix and we don’t get a, a concentration
of any one thing in any horizon in the mix. So the secret to composting is oxygen and
this can be demonstrated in a lot of different ways but oxygen depletion and compost pile
look something like this. If you turn a pile or if we’re using a blower to induce air flow
and we get the oxygen up to roughly what we breathe at sea level slightly over 20 percent
and then we stop turning or the blower turns off, that oxygen level drops very, very quickly
in a relatively short period of time. So early in the composting process, what I’m showing
here is that we will drop below about 8 or 10 percent in let’s say 20 minutes. It doesn’t
take very long at all. As the pile does get older and the activity
drops off, the oxygen demand also drops off and so what you’ll see is in the elongation
of this same curve but ultimately within a relatively short period of time, 45 minutes
to an hour, you are back into the anaerobic condition. When you’re in anaerobic, the off
gases that you’re putting off are really quite offensive whereas in the aerobic condition,
they’re very mild and I’ve had it referred to as ambiance as opposed to odor. So, aeration allows the operator to maintain aerobic
conditions, mitigate impacts from objectionable odors, manage pile temperatures and I’ll talk
more about that here in a moment, reduce the loss of nutrients in the system, expedite
the rate of composting and curing, produces superior compost product. So looking at the
temperature curve or the life cycle of a composting process, we start with this area which is
referred to as active composting and this zone A is the lower temperatures, the mesophilic
range. These are the mesophiles that are doing that work and they’re below 40 degrees C,
roughly 104 degrees Fahrenheit and then above that, we’re working with the thermophilic
range which is where the compost pile will be throughout the majority of its active phase. Our goal is to achieve 55 degrees Celsius
which is equivalent to 131 Fahrenheit for a minimum of three days using the aerated
static pile method. If we were to use the turned windrow method instead, we would still
want to achieve 131 Fahrenheit but we would do this over 15-day period and turn the pile
five times within that 15-day period. These are USEPA criteria for what’s known as a process
to further reduce pathogens or PFRP. If you spend any time in the composting industry,
this is an expression that you will hear a great deal. Now, we show 70 degrees up here, 158 degrees.
Once our temperatures get to this range, the composting process actually slows down
considerably because we are limiting the number of bacteria that are doing the work for us
and so to get the pile to cool down, what we will do is induce additional airflow to
exhaust some of that heat off to the environment. As I mentioned earlier, this is a bacterial
driven phase. This is a more fungal driven phase and is a transition between the two
represented by this dash line. Pile temperatures naturally come down and
this period of time again, 30 to 60 days is where we see most of the textural change in
the mix. So I’m looking at real data. This is really what a classic profile looks like.
We go almost immediately from mesophilic to thermophilic range and then it drops off slowly
over time. Partly this is due to the microbial activity and the heat that they’re putting
off but also compost tends to be very, very self-insulating so once it gets hot, it tends
to stay hot. The difference between these curves is simply their location that the temperature
data was collected from the pile, low, medium, and high points in the pile. So the ASP process, the three-bin system,
this is an example of a process or a step by step process is fairly typical. This is
a horse farm here in Snohomish, Washington. This is an example of a bin, the aeration
floor. This is a chamber referred to as the plenum chamber; air comes in at this point.
It’s under pressure. We put boards across these ledges here and there’s gaps about three
eighths of an inch between each of these boards and that helps us deliver air uniformly across
the base of the pile. So schematically, this is what this looks
like in cross section. We’ve got the walls. Here’s the aeration plenum, the boards and
we put a layer of wood shavings or something like that, wood chips over the top and that
acts as a bit of a filter and also helps us spread the airflow out. They also notice that
these do not extend out to the walls and that’s because the material that sits here acts as
a seal so that the airflow does not short circuit directly up the wall but rather comes
into the pile under pressure and works its way through the mix. So over a period of days in a horse farm,
we designed systems such that they will fill up in about 30 days and so we’re preparing
the mix as we go, filling day by day by day and then ultimately we would put a compost
cover over the top, typically 6 inches in a situation like this and the reason for that
is that it acts as a thermal blanket that helps us get all of the raw material underneath
it up to temperature to again meet a process to further reduce pathogens or PFRP. It also
helps as a bio-filter for odor control to absorb volatile organic compounds and ammonia, retains
nutrients, mostly the nitrogen from the ammonia, it helps thus control vectors any critters
or birds or flies that might want to get in there are dissuaded because of the heat. They
dig down it gets too hot. Helps us retain moisture in the system and it improves the
overall aesthetics of the operation. Once it’s full, we turn the air on and the
air will cycle on typically a minute or two minutes every 30 minutes, that’s pretty typical.
So the air comes in through the pipes. It’s pressurized tiers under positive pressure
and then it distributes throughout this mix here and during this period of time, we do
not turn the pile. We just let nature take its course. You see steam coming off of the
pile and when you take pile temperatures, the major core of the pile, the upper two
thirds and the center is going to get the hottest and so our goal is to get to 131 degrees
Fahrenheit or 55 degrees C, that are equivalent, in all parts of this bin. Over the course of the three or four weeks
that it’s in, the bin, you will typically see 25 to 40 percent volume loss and this
is a sequence of a picture, this is horse manure at a farm. They’re collecting the manure,
putting it in the bin. Their moisture conditioning it at this point. Again moisture is a very,
very important factor. You do tend to lose a good deal of moisture through that 30 days
of composting so our goal here is to get the mix to 60 to 65 percent as it goes in. In
this case, she is delivering the mix to the top of the pile and then using her loader
to take finished compost to cover the pile and then she spreads it out. You can see even after only six weeks a very,
very distinct difference between the composted material and the raw feed stocks underneath.
We monitor pile temperatures throughout the composting process and adjust the airflow
to manage those pile temperatures. So looking at the same scenario is the three-bin system,
we have a full bin, we put the cover on top, we start the air flow and while this is composting,
we’re filling the bin right next to it. Ultimately, this one is full. We put the cover on. We’re
adding to this one. This one is receiving a bit of airflow. It’s in the curing process
and then ultimately this one is full. We remove the material from the first bin and then repeat
that cycle so it’s a one, two, three, one, two, three type process. Now looking at university composting in source
separated organics, I love St. John’s University and what they have done there. We helped them
design this system and I’m so thoroughly impressed with their organization and commitment
to this process and you’ll see a picture here in a moment of Tom Goldsmith who, who is the
lead on all this and I always enjoyed calling Tom because he starts out, he goes I love
my compost system. So this is something that they constructed. They have a cover over the
top of it. It’s a three-bin system and they take in the food wastes from all the campus
kitchens and the food vendors and coffee shop onsite. Now what’s interesting about this picture
is it’s in an area off by the ball fields but this is a dormitory and they’re purely
unaware of it from an odor stand point. It’s been a lot of fun. They have been using the
rocket. This is an A700 model and this has been repurposed now to the St. John’s University
Staten Island campus. The reason they got away from this it works very well for them
but it was just undersized. It could not meet the capacity whereas at the Staten Island
campus, apparently it’s working just fine and Tom also wanted me to mention that they
just yesterday began construction on an organic garden at the Staten Island campus where students
would be involved in that process. So this is their system during construction.
It was built by the students. These are kids who had never picked up a hammer before and
so they got a tremendous benefit from the experience in actually building and pouring
concrete and seeing it from, from breaking ground through to operation. This is their
aeration system. There’s a blower that delivers air in this manifold and each of these lateral
pipes deliver air to the floor of each of the respective bins, the three bins in the
floor, they appropriated plates in the floor and this is concrete here in the middle. They collect food wastes from all the different
kitchens. They use 30 gallon Toter containers with with sealing lids and they collect oh,
probably 20 or 30 of these over the course of a week and then they do a weekly batch
to to mix. This is the receiving area where they’re doing their mixing and then the three
bins to the right. This is the picture of Tom. There are certain materials that only
he can, is allowed to handle that they get in with their loader, turn and mix the materials
and then put it into the bin. This is an example of removing the boards
after the material has been composted. As you can see, it’s a much darker color. There’s
no evidence of food in any of this at this point. They’ve had to do quite a bit of training
of the kitchen staff to keep any of the plastics, rubber bands, that sort of thing out of the
mix because those things certainly won’t compost and you can tell the quality of the compost
by the way it smells and we jokingly referred to that as the nose knows. They moved it over to a holding pile and then
later run it through a little screen that they put together. The fine material falls
through. They use that in their organic gardens and then the coarse material falls into this
bin and it simply gets recycled back into one of their future batches. Right next to
it, they have a student-run pea patch or an organic garden that they’ve been running for
several years and this is amazing to see the student involvement with, with this process
not only getting their hands dirty but also they’ve incorporated the curriculum at St.
John’s with their biology department and with their environmental engineering group and
a lot of different classes actually come out there and see the continuum of waste through
a manufacturing process backed into a value-added product. This is their group of sustainability coordinators
and one of the things that impressed me the most about this was it they, the seniors and
juniors are training the freshmen and sophomores and there’s a continuum or sustainability
of the student involvement in this process. All these students represent pretty much every
major available and so it’s not just the environmental students, it’s authors and political science
students and the fellow here that finished his curriculum and has gone on to be in the
army. So the importance of this is students are getting out into the world and applying
all of this in the real world. So, how do you get started? This is the big
question to bridge the gap. This is again plywood bins. They’re very simple and inexpensive.
It allows the university to quickly and inexpensively test, pilot test the feasibility of campus
composting. It allows an opportunity to, for hands on training, in the science and art
of composting, we talked a little bit about science but composting is very, very much
an art form. You learn it by doing it. We produce a finished product that can be tested
in the laboratory and also tested in the field or in the market place should you choose to
sell it. One of the key benefits of the pilot project
is to identify the logistical constraints and propose and test solutions to those constraints.
These are things that no matter how much planning you do, you just cannot anticipate that they
will arrive but always something shows up and usually many things and you have to work
your way through that process. It also allow students to take action to enroll the participation
of students, sustainability coordinators, integrate composting into the, into the science
and engineering curriculum and answer the question is on campus composting, socially,
economically, and environmentally sustainable. So bridging the gap between theory and practice
allows the university to quantify the reduction in their carbon footprint, conduct a cost
benefit analysis to determine return on their investment and reach a go, no go decision
quickly in a minimal cost in, in non-obligating tremendous resources. It also establishes
a basis for full-scale system design should they decide to go in that direction. It’s
one thing to get student commitment but it’s critical to get administrative commitment
to this process for it to be a sustainable activity on campus. So for those of you who are interested and,
and may be available later in January of 2014, I would highly recommend you attend the US
Composting Council’s annual conference this year. It’s in Oakland, California. You can
go to their website, compostingcouncil.org, to learn more about that. I would be conducting
an all-day workshop on aerated static pile composting and we get probably 40, 50 people
attend that and it’s a lot of fun, lots of hands on exercises and this is my contact
information. If you have any questions, I mentioned the grant program. We will award
two or three or four more grants this coming year so if that’s something you may be interested
in, please feel free to give me a call and I’ll turn it back to you, Melissa, and
open it up to questions.>>Melissa: Peter, thank you very much. I
I never tire of hearing that presentation or at least I’ve heard parts of it over, over
time and I always learn something new. Thank you very much.>>Peter: You bet.>>Melissa: We’re going to hold questions
until the end. So if you don’t mind hanging out, we’ll go through the other presentations
and then circle back. I’ve only received a few questions so far so hopefully we’ll be
able to take care of all of them at the end of this session.>>Peter: Great.>>Melissa: So, okay so with that, Jorge,
if you could switch over to giving Dr. Kney a presenter spot, that would be great and
I’ll go ahead and introduce the next presentation. The next presentation is from Lafayette College
in Pennsylvania and we’re going to actually hear from a team of speakers for this presentation.
First, Dr. Art Kney, Dr. Art Kney received a PhD in environmental engineering from Leehigh
University in 1999 and is professional engineering licensed in 2007. He is currently serving
as associate professor and department head in the department of civil and environmental
engineering at Lafayette College. And I reached out to Dr. Kney about this presentation
and his enthusiasm has been pretty overwhelming. They were really stoked to put this together
so that’s great. Also presenting will be Stacey Dorn, Lafayette College class of 2012. Stacey
is civil and environmental engineering graduate from Lafayette College. While at Lafayette,
Stacey was head of the compost operations and research. Stacey currently works as a civil
engineer for Westin Solutions in Norfolk, Virginia. We also have Jorge Xiques. Jorge has worked
at Lafayette since 1994 in the facilities and planning department as well as the operations
department currently. Lastly on the presentation team, we have Joel Blice. Joel is the general
manager for Bon Appetit at Lafayette who is Lafayette’s food service provider. Joel is
a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has certified executive chef credentials
from the American Culinary Federation. So welcome to all these presenters and I’m
looking forward to your presentation and with that, Art, you can go ahead and take it away.>>Dr. Kney: Okay, I’m assuming you can hear
me and that my slides are up. Is that correct?>>Melissa: That’s correct. I can hear you.
Slides are up.>>Dr. Kney: Okay; well, thank you. So anyway
my name is Art and if we could just go around and say hello so you get a sense of our voices.
We’ll have some pictures at the end so you can get a better, better understanding who
we are but I, again, my name is Art Kney. We have with us Stacey Dorn. Are you there,
Stacey? Nope, okay and we also, hopefully she’ll come
back in and we have uh –>>Jorge: Jorge Xiques, plant operations,
Lafayette College.>>Joel: And Joel Blice from Bon Appetit, Lafayette
dining.>>Dr. Kney: So as evidenced from our titles,
together we make up a significant cross section of the Lafayette community. Meaning that our
collective responsibility is to Lafayette range from administrative, teaching, research,
plain operations, alumni, and dining services. And as we’ve heard from Peter, coming up with
the right formula to get a program to go forward is it’s extremely important. Lafayette College
is located in Easton, Pennsylvania where about an hour and a quarter driving distance from
north of Philadelphia and about the same driving distance from west of, of New York. So as the rest of the group with us today,
we’re here to talk about one of the many contemporary challenges facing us facing us and how we
might go about improving the way we handle our food waste as documented by many sources
as Melissa pointed out, the largest percentage of solid food waste entering municipal landfills
is food waste. Therefore based on this concern, in 2007, students at Lafayette College addressed
the challenge and began working in ways that we might as a campus eliminate food waste
from our local landfill and do it in a responsible sustainable way. So the talk that I want to give today is going
to highlight the development of our composting program, here at Lafayette College. One of
the actually in 2007, a student named Mickey Adelman approached me in his first year, at
Lafayette about the possibility of starting some sort of a composting program and working
toward a program that would eventually become institutionalized. So we talked about it,
how it might be done and outlined at least what the challenges and hurdles that we thought
at that time might be. So during his first college, college summer,
he spent most of his time putting together a proposal on how we might go forward. We
talked many times over the telephone and he came back in the fall energized to to put
things together. There, with our program, I think also as Peter had pointed out, we
had a few key pieces that we felt that if we were going to put this together, how
to be kind of the center focus such that it would be a successful initiative. The first was the academic connections, ties
to classroom activities, ties to research, ties to student driven clubs, and ties to
ties to the community. We also wanted to figure out some sort of way that we could extend
our composting program beyond just the idea of composting and eventually we landed on
the idea of what we called or coined as the food loop. This was termed actually at the
time by another student, another student lead named Jennifer Bell, graduated 2011. Jennifer
and another faculty so it wasn’t just myself and within the civil and the department of
environmental engineering, had other faculty joining from other departments, about the
same time as the compost program was just getting off the ground began working towards
a student-run garden. So one thing led to another and collectively
we put together this idea of a food loop which included composting the organic waste into
a high quality nutrient rich soil additive then applying that to the garden and eventually
the food that was produced in the garden working its way back to the dining services and Joe
will talk a little bit about that, and then again starting the cycle once again through
this food loop idea. So, now I want to talk a little bit about
how as a group, we did this and Mickey was actually instrumental in putting together
a kind of a composting committee that was student-led and we have a couple of student
groups on campus that are concerned about sustainability and about environmental research,
the kind of the advocates are a group called Lafayette environmental awareness and
protection leap and the second group which is concerned with research environmental research
and topics of such is called Society of Environmental Engineers and Scientists or SEES. And so with these two groups, we put together
a subcommittee, subcommittees and then began working towards our goal of a campus-wide
composting program. So in the center of this picture is Mickey Adelman. To the left of
looking at it is Jennifer Bell and to the right is another student lead at the time
named Brian Macketti so these students together shared roles their leadership roles for example,
I think it was Brian that took forth the idea that we knew we’re going to have to raise
some money so Brian had the idea of building backyard composting units, complete with detailed
instructions done in a professional manner and we sold them for about $100.00 a piece. And we kind of compared what was online and
ours was about a third of the cost of what somebody might find online. Other students
started testing how we might do the compost and again as Peter Moon was advocating that
for any campus that’s just going to get started, it’s not a bad idea to kind of start to test
on how you’re going to do it, the program that you’re going to put together that kind
of composting unit that you’re going to use, so on and so forth and so we did that and
setup a pilot scale test in one of our back parking lots. It’s another important point here to point
out regarding leadership that when you start programs like this, certainly you may have
an energetic student or group of students initially but it’s also important to realize
that again, as Peter noted, that you have to have this instilled idea where you know
the torch is passed along from one person to the next. Stacey Dorn who’s with us today
is an alumni who actually took the torch from Mickey and kept the program
alive and students motivated to participate. So as we move, move forward in the planning
stages, we quickly began to realize that we might actually make our program become a reality
and so we had to, we started to consider ways that we would develop a lasting program. So
what we did and I didn’t list the university names but we took a hard look at various universities
across United States that had some sort of a small or large scale program that were taking
large amounts of food waste from from dining services and composting and we found and this
kind of a, this table identifies it the areas that we looked at, we found that the partition,
participation and buy-in varied with every program we looked at, again as identified
in the graph that’s on the screen. But from this study, we determined that a
successful composting program at a university, kind of a university environment would need
participation and buy-in from a wide range of community members, administration, plant
operations, dining services, faculty, students, and I don’t think we should forget the
community at large which is also kind of a part of any community. So such that we maintain a strong pedagogical
theme, we were driven to apply value to each of the groups that we were considering such
that we were con, con, create a strong program but in, in at the same time, wanted to make,
to make sure that we were connecting members across campus in a meaningful way and that’s
what this slide represents and most important, I, I think we found at least at Lafayette
that if the administration is not on board, it’s going to be a hard a hard to forge a
path forward. So they need to be brought on early in the
process and Jorge will speak a little bit about that at the, at the end of our talk
today. So we also knew that if we went to the re,
administration and just kind of asked for another request, uh, just ask for money, they
might not be that receptive. So, we knew that we had to present a coherent plan with a realistic
goal and a you know, a sound program so we began to look around for significant sources
of funding to jumpstart our program in a way that we could begin that composting program
on, in a campus-wide environment. Initially we looked at the PEED, the Pennsylvania
Department of Environmental Protection, as a potential source. We put together the proposal again in unison
with administration and all participating members and submitted the proposal and we
were successful and that was actually the start of our institutionalized program which
started out from a student-led program which we ran for about two years and eventually
passed on to our plant operations. Other funding sources were needed to help build our composting
site and establish our budding student garden program. Community outreach, with the food loop as
our central theme, both, both our student groups LEAP and which I mentioned earlier
began to host local events for local K to 12 programs. We have uh, a program that’s
called Discovery Center here in the Leehigh Valley which is over in Allentown so we worked
with them. We sponsored various group clean-ups not only on – but also off-campus. River clean-ups are also a great idea to kind
of maintain that theme of recycling and so all of this was done with academic and community
academics in mind as well as community responsibility at heart. With the growth of our program,
we ended up with some unexpected but welcome outcomes. As illustrated through our green
report card, Lafayette came a long way in a short amount of time for the efforts to
drive towards a more sustainable campus, and it pretty much took a life of, of its own
on. But it’s also important to remember, going
through this process, can take quite a bit of effort and it doesn’t happen overnight.
It takes a lot of planning, commitment, resources, buy-in and time. The seed of our program was
planted in 2007 but didn’t really actually, we didn’t actually reach our goal until about
May of 2010. So that was after we got our proposal granted through the PA DET and then
built our site and and then started collecting trash in a significant way or the food waste
in a significant way. And this past, path was not without numerous
bumps in the road. I think any group needs to understand that and you need to have a
strong driving component to keep things going. It’s also worth mentioning that after the
program was in place, there’s still a need for regular communications, and what I mean
in place is as we institutionalized it, and then passed this torch to our plant operations,
our students are still involved and so communications, regular meetings, and follow-up are needed
on a, a regular basis. So, some of the stats for our program. At
Lafayette, we use two or what are called earthtubs supplied by Green Mountain Technology. You
can simply type in Green Mountain Technology and the word earthtub and you’ll get many
hits on the web. Each tub is about 3 cubic yards in volume and over time, our collection
rate of food waste varies. We collect anywhere from 50 to 200 lbs plus daily. We only collect
five days a week. We don’t collect on weekends and it takes about a week to fill one of our
tubs. The food volume that we collect is mashed
with leaves and bulking material such as wood chips, which Jorge talked about to maintain
that oxygen flow, and also the leaves for carbon content. Once the tubs are full, we
we allow our tubs to bake for a week and we do something special with the food waste that
goes into it which is called pulping or chopping it up. I believe earthtub recommends at least
a two-week baking period but we found if we can increase the surface area by chopping
up our food waste, we were able to do a decent job of the composting part of the process
in about a week maintaining at least three days at 130 degrees that Peter had mentioned
and then we take it out and it’s allowed to cure for at least a month or more. So, as I wrap up my portion of this, the slide
that I have here represents the goals of our program, building towards a more sustainable
campus, and on the left is our current program and we’re eventually working with involving
the community more and more but as we work to develop our program, we’ve also come to
realize that these types of activities go beyond establishing just buildings, typical
student activities, isolated campus projects. It served to plant the seeds of change within
the community as well as the broader community. So at this point, what I’d like to do is take
a few minutes and talk about some of the ups and downs in the program and I’m hoping that
Stacey has come on board. Are you there, Stacey?>>Stacey: Yeah, can you hear me?>>Dr. Kney: Yes, so each Jorge, Stacey, and
Joel will talk just a bit about some of their experiences in the program. So go ahead.>>Stacey: I’ll start off with some of the
difficulties I had running the program. When I came on board, it was when we had first
gotten the earthtubs and I don’t know how much you guys know about them or you could
see the picture but they’re a little bit of a labor intensive process, you know, you have
to manually turn the tubs and you know, dump the food in and it, it’s not really easy.
It takes at least two people to do so what I had to do was come up with a compost team
of students to go out every night and perform the process. The fact that none of them were paid and that
you know, the food waste kind of stunk and they had to try it offsite, it was kind of
hard you know, to get together a group of reliable people that would do this night after
night and not to mention we had to wait until the dining hall was closed so we were performing
all this at like 10:30, 11:00 at night. Also just getting the dining hall staff involved
and you know, they were the ones that had to the food and set it out for us. All those
are bosses were really involved, you know, getting them to really work for us was also
a challenge. And I feel like the way I was just seemed
really enthusiastic about what we were doing. I think if you have you know, a leader of
the program that’s really invested in it and really wants it to work out and is really
excited about what they’re doing, it’s kind of contagious and you can get a lot of help
that way from both students and staff that you need help from.>>Dr. Kney: Okay, thank you, Stacey. So, Jorge
is going to talk to us now, Jorge Xiques.>>>>Jorge: Thank you. One of the things
that I’ve, that I’ve observed since my starting work here at 1994 is that the compost efforts
would be cyclical. It would be one year would be uh, there would be some interest in it
then maybe another year would come along and you didn’t have a, a group of either students,
faculty, or for that matter administration interested and it would just kind of lay foul.
What really helped to kick start composting, and really get it to be a, something that
was continuous over the years is no. 1, it became a student led project then it became
a part of the curriculum. We were asked to assist and we’re happy to
assist whenever students and or faculty asked us to participate in their studies. The other
component here, regarding continuity was the communication between the the faculty, the
students, and plant operations. Stacey had a kind of a tough job because prior to Stacey
coming on board, composting was done. We started first with a simple hand made three compartment
bin, then we’ve progressed to what we call the tumblers which were basically 42-gallon
drums put on rollers so you could turn composting in there but you were limited to the volume
of the drum itself. So the earthtubs were kind of a departure.
We were kind of excited to get them here along with the equipment known as the pulpers. The
pulpers are the ones that chop up the post-consumer food creating more surface area, enriching
or making the process more efficient. All of this is kind of new to us. Stacey sort of
had to take the bull by the horns with Professor Kney and work out the bugs which included
at the time overfilling the tubs and running into some technical issues with the lids of
the tubs popping off. Those kinds of things had to be addressed, stiffening added, repaired
those little issues that always come up when you’re starting up the equipment. Once we got past that, the efforts of the
students first of all in handing the ball off every year to the next group of students,
the seniors and juniors would hand the ball off to sophomores and even freshman to carry
the ball forward and keep continuity going with the process plus the fact that it was
part of the curriculum enabled the program to get large enough to where it could then
be handed off to the college as far as the operational scheme of things every year. Every college is different. Every college
will have to assess whether they, how much support they can provide but key elements
would be including the process, finding a place for it in the curriculum, that would
be one key and then of course just having the right mix of people and being able to
maintain continuity by continuing to hand the ball off consistently every year.>>Joel: Hi, this is Joel Blice, director for
Bon Appetit, Lafayette. Bon Appetit is new to the Lafayette community and I’d just like
to say that in our relationship so far, it’s been a great privilege to work with Art and
Jorge and all the members of the Lafayette community that are involved with both composting
and also with our other sustainability efforts on campus. One of the foundations of Lafayette
dining is what we call responsibility and that encompasses the environment, our community
and also the well-being of both community and our environment. More happy to support
the composting program. We’re very active in the college garden and knowing that the
majority of that compost goes to the garden and helps to grow and nourish the vegetables
that we buy feels that it helps us in our goal of supporting our community well-being
and again the environment. We purchase as much as the college garden
can grow. We take an active role each year with looking at what plantings can be enhanced
for the future growing season, which will allow us to serve a greater mass of the population
of the Lafayette community. Also in purchasing those vegetables from our college garden,
it helps us in our farm to fork commitment where we have pledged to the community of
Lafayette to purchase at least 20 percent of our total food spend with 150 mile radius
of Lafayette. It also assists us with our Eat Local challenge and of course with our
low carbon diet day. We recognize the value of composting on campus.
We’re excited to be able to take a proactive approach in our sustainability efforts. We’re
fully aware of the environmental concerns and also the value associated with everyone’s
efforts in this project. Thank you.>>Dr. Kney: Okay, well, I think that’s about
it for us. We do have, we did actually participate in a EPA P3 contest a few years ago but since
Melissa wasn’t there, we actually didn’t win so we were a little disappointed in that but
at the bottom of this slide that’s up there, you can certainly go to YouTube I think if
you typed in Lafayette College organic waste or P3, it’d come up with it and certainly
welcome to take a look at how we did and some of the things we were doing back at that time
so thank you Melissa and thank you everybody else.>>Melissa: All right, thanks so much. I absolutely
loved the slide. I’m trying to figure out how I could use it somehow later. It’s just
really awesome. [Laughter] Thanks for the rest of your presenters as well. I really
appreciate the the overall perspective of all the people involved. It really hit home
that you know, you need to work with a group of people for successful composting operation.
Thank you. Again, I’ve had had a number of questions coming in so I’m very happy about
that but for now, we’re going to go ahead and have our last presentation. So Jorge
if you could switch over to Mark Hutchinson, that would be great. Mark is our last presenter but certainly not
the least presenter. I loved that story from the University of Maine. Mark was brought
to my attention or his program was brought to my attention by a colleague of mine also
in the Boston office who works with Jorge and she brought this to my attention and I
did a little research and talked to Mark and was really happy that he was interested in
participating in today’s Webinar. So Mark Hutchinson is at the University of
Maine as I think I already mentioned. He has been a faculty member at the University of
Maine cooperative extension since 2000. Mark’s current research in education programs focused
on soil health and utilization of compost as a soil amendment which is really, really
important and he has been a member of the Maine Compost and the director of the Maine
Compost School since 2002. I hear really, really good things about that school. Mark
provides composting techno, technical assistance to the University of Maine on this campus
compost project that you’re going to hear about now so Mark, hopefully you can hear
me. You’re up and ready to go. I see your presentation’s there and I’ll turn it over
to you.>>Mark: Great, thanks, Melissa. Can you hear
me all right?>>Melissa: Yeah, I can hear you. That’s good.>>Mark: Great, thanks and thanks for participating
at the Webinar today. As Melissa said, I provide the technical background in the composting
for the main compost project and we have what we call complete or clean the cycle on University
of Maine campus from food scraps to commodity, University of Maine food service areas, back
into our greens program on campus. We’ll walk through a little bit about what the university
is and what the program is. So we’re a fairly large interstate university,
student population a little over 11,000 people with about 3,600 of them living on campus
so we serve almost 50,000 meals a week on campus. So it’s over four food centers and
we, and because of that, there’s a considerable amount of waste material that during the prepping
that we actually are able to collect and so we collect the pre-consumer waste only at
this point in time and we collect about 7,500 lbs. of material a week. We have a long history at the University of
Maine of composting in different varieties, in different ways. Way back in the ’80s, we
even did a little bit of anaerobic digestion, was on our dairy farm. We used the food wastes
from our campus to actually supplement the dairy waste that was going in there that project
was a research project. It only lasted for a very short period of time, in fact until
a digester exploded and actually broke. From there, we went to on campus turned windrow
system in the ’90s and there’s a, again it was at our dairy farm which is about a mile
and a half off from campus and material had to be transported to a farm but again there’s
really no ownership in that composting system by, by people on, on the farm or really the
people at the food service center so it’s a, it really was doomed for failure. As Art
said, it takes some push behind some of the administrators and a group of people in order
to get this done and that’s, the enthusiasm just wasn’t there. Now there are also some issues around our state
DEP permitting problem. I’m not sure if all these states have to go through permits but we certainly
do in the state of Maine, particularly for composting food wastes so the DEP becomes a
critical partner for us when developing this project. Between 2001 and 2012, we actually
contracted with an off campus composting commercial composter. He would actually come on campus
and haul the material on a four-day schedule. As I talk to our food service providers you
know, those days where he did not haul particularly, when it got late spring into the heat of the
summer and into early fall when it was still warm, those barrels sitting on the back loading
dock were not the prettiest sights and often prone to be a considerable problem for the food
service areas. The other thing is, Hall from the campus to the sites are 50 miles roundtrip
so it was an expense as far as the carbon footprint goes that we weren’t really excited
about and we’re also paying a considerable amount of money at $65,000.00 a year as a
tip fee for this service. So, one of the things that happened is that
we started or they started to put together a, a committee on campus in looking at you
know, all the stakeholders who need to be involved in changing the system and how to
make this more a sustainable and green process for the campus. As a picture, so there’s a
job no matter how big or small for everyone that is and it’s important that you get them
all involved. I think both Art and Pete had mentioned this
that you know, without everyone’s involvement, the project is not going to go anywhere and
you know, we, we one of the things that the university did not do in forming the committee
is to have students involved and that I don’t know whether that was a conscious decision
by the organizers or whether it was just a, decided to make it a systemic, system on campus
where it became part of the actual fabric of the administration and facilities on campus
and students weren’t really involved at the beginning of it. One of the things that we had to decide as
a committee was actually the location of where it was going to take place, where it was going
to be on campus or one of our off campus research facilities, will it be our dairy farm or our
horse farm. Dairy farm’s about a mile and a half away and our horse farm is about three
miles away or whether it was going to be some place directly on campus where we could actually
have our facilities group do the transportation and manage the site. The other thing you need to think about when
you’re developing these is what’s the methodology you’re going to use? He talked about a forced
aerated system. There’s that system, there’s turned systems. We went to an in-vessel system
which is a closed system for a variety of different reasons. Now I’ll talk about those
reasons, coming up. The other piece of this was developing funding
and a lot of people on campus reach out for a grant opportunity and so on. We’re fortunate
enough that we were going to, we’re able to fund this internally through a couple of different
departments that were really critical to making this happen. Our auxiliary services, we still
provide our own food service on campus through university employees and is our director of
auxiliary services and put in some funding along with the vice president of finances
saw this as an important part of campus sustainability program. The other side that happened was okay, if
we’re not going to have students run this program, who has what responsibility and how
are those responsibilities divided? Everything from who operates the l composting system
to who’s doing the collection, who’s cleaning the barrels, who’s trained in doing the training
for the food service staff, it was a lot to actually work our way through and look at
those responsibilities and decide who’s going to do what. And then it’s not a short process. It’s not
a short or easy process. It took us over two years to kind of find out all these different
issues and problems that we went through but in the end, I think we actually
developed a really cohesive team and it, and it became or has become part of the fabric
of the University of Maine system. And really what’s driven this is you know, a lot
of the individuals that are currently there have put in policies in place in order for
their divisions to actually work so we have resource recovery unit. Dennis Grant is the director and Scott Foster
is the associate director and Scott is actually our onsite day to day operator for our compost
facility and he took that on as an extra responsibility of this day to day duty. As I said, Ben is
the director of our auxiliary services and they’re providing the training and financial
backing for the project to happen and we actually have some faculty and students that are now
starting to participate in the program particularly through the end-use products. Administration is always the key factor. This
is an anecdotal side note here. We were going through this process we had in administration
that was not keen on it being on campus so the committee knew that this administration
was changing. We were having a change in our upper administration. We were patient enough
for that change that made it a priority for our incoming administration and then it kind
of, it took off from there. So now the administration is really important and getting their support
is important. One of the things that we have to do is decide
where this in-vessel was going to go. We decided it to be an on campus facility so we have
an in-vessel location, uh; it’s on eastern side of our campus. It is within a half mile
of each of our four food centers who have an easy transportation. We produced our
mileage that we have to transport our food from about 50 miles roundtrip to less than
about 3 miles a trip so we’ve reduced our carbon footprint in that matter, significantly. We also wanted to be isolated from the public
view at least because of security reasons. There’s a lot of concern about how these things
operate and Friday nights and students getting into them and you know, what would
the public see if they saw a composting and there’s a lot of concern so we found a nice
spot on campus that was isolated from public view but yet easily accessible for student
activities and also for the staff in order to make this a functional site. It, it also needs to have a good winter access.
You can see that in the picture on the left that we get significant snow in Maine and
it drifts and blows so we want to make sure that we have winter access and that’s the
ground crew was going to be able to plough this facility out and keep going year-round
because most of our composting actually takes place during the winter months when students
are on campus. The system actually slows considerably during the summer, to just a crawl at that,
between you know, late May and early August. The other thing is making it close enough
to where you’re going to use the product at the end was important to everyone and so you
can see on the picture on the right this is our, what’s called a Maine greens project
in the high tunnel that we have and the compost area is directly behind that is a couple of
hundred feet behind that so it’s in close proximity to where the end product is actually
being used. We chose a methodology that that was a fairly
significant initial capital investment. We invested about $400,000.00 in the project.
Again that was all internally funded through auxiliary services and our vice president
for finances. It is an earth-enclosed system. It’s an 8 feet by 40 feet earth-enclosed system,
at that time the biggest one. I just recently learned they now built a 50-footer so you
can get them in a variety of different sizes. Eventually the enclosed, the in-vessel system
is that the major concern that people had that weren’t composters were dealing with
vectors and odor issues and not understanding that they could be controlled outside, in
an aerated system, whether it be a turned system or static aerated system as well as
you can in an in-vessel but I couldn’t convince them into a different type of system so we
went to an in-vessel system with 21-day retention times so the material goes in on day one and
it stays here approximately for 21 days, coming out the other end. The only thing we did not invest in was the
road structure so road, electricity, and site work, you can see we poured some concrete,
a fairly significant amount of concrete for a pad and also put up a feed stock building
in order to keep our feed stocks thrive and we actually purchased all of our feedstock
that necessarily we keep a supply of wood shavings on, on deck that we do purchase and
we use this strictly as an emergency in case we do have odor issues or gets a little bit
out of whack and we need to add some carbon to dry things down or odor control. We are using some finished compost also for
odor controls and then we developed a recipe and then the recipe, we’ve looked at things
almost exclusively on campus. We have an equine center on campus so we’re able to get all
our horse delivered to our sites on a, either comes on a weekly or bi-weekly and we store
in the feed, in the feed stock building which is really a good it keeps it dry and it keeps
it available and ready to use on availability basis and then of course our food residuals
as part of it and then occasionally some wood shavings but our recipe is basically two and
a half parts of carbon to one part of food waste and the parts, we use a skid steer but
it could be bucket loads, it could be 5 gallon pails, whatever it is that you have
available. Again the horse bedding is something that’s
on campus. We, we house about 20 animals that are both students and also the university
equine center has some horses for research and that bedding comes – it’s highly amended
with wood shavings as as a bedding material, very little manure in it, so very little waste
feed in it so it’s a really good carbon source for us and it’s dry and we also, the main
thing that we’re trying to get rid of, of course is the food residual and it is usually
picks up in the morning. It takes about an hour to two hours actually to collect that
around campus and it’s brought back to our site. It’s picked up in 35 gallon barrels,
plastic barrels with plastic lining. This is an issue that we’re trying to work
through is looking at those plastic liners and how do we can make those – whether we
can use compostable liners and not but at this point in time, with the system, we haven’t
found a compostable bag that really works well. We do have a truck that has a lift gate
so they are just kind of rolled on the lift gate. If there’s no loading dock and lift
with the lift gate or most of our food service centers have a loading dock where they can
just be wheeled directly on. You notice that the barrel on the right is
also not completely full. If you fill a 35 gallon barrel full of food, you will have
a hard time handling it so we decided to train our staff to actually fill those you know,
to a reasonable weight and to keep those manageable as far as the weight goes
for our staff and it’s actually picked up by our facilities, our research recovery
department. So basic process is, fall, we collect the food waste. It is dumped into
kind of a a bay that has precast size, three size on it. It is then amended with the horse beddings
with skid steer. It is pre-mixed to some degree before it goes into the in-vessel system and
then it is loaded directly into the in-vessel system and you can see the inside of the in-vessel
system. This is when it was brand new and we were just loading it. It doesn’t look quite
as nice and shiny now with compost having been there for about a year now since we’ve
been running this but that system would actually you can see the auger. The auger moves both
left and right and front to back and it is sorry about the window keeps popping up, it
is –>>Melissa: This is Melissa. If you hit the
bottom choice, I think it’ll stop popping up.>>Mark: Oh, great. Thank you.>>Melissa: Yup.>>Mark: So it is, it is a, it takes, in order
to fill this, it will take about 20 days to fill it, 18 to 20 days to fill it. We put
in; we put in about two to three yards of material a day, depending on the day. Mondays
are a little bit heavier because we only collect five days a week. We don’t again, don’t do
the weekends so on Mondays we get a significant plug of, of barrels coming in upwards of 60
barrels on, on a Monday. Once it’s full, this is what you see at the
end and the bottom door swings open. We unload with a skid steer so we come around and where
the arrow starts, we would pull that out and we actually have a curing pad on the right
where we actually cure that for, we actually cure that for three to six months and
the reason for the longer curing time will depend on what it’s actually being used for,
on a, if it’s going to go into a potty mixer or shavings, to start shavings with. The end product that comes out of there is
actually used for a project that started in 2012 with a colleague, Dr. Eric Gallant, the
Maine Greens Enterprise and this is actually a student-run project in which they are actually
learning to grow greens in high tunnels and those greens are then sold directly to our
food centers. The students are currently producing about 40 lbs. of greens a week. They get anywhere
between $5.00 to $6.00 a pound of that like, the auxiliary services actually pays the students
back and the students use that money to you know, to buy seeds to build some infrastructure
and just to maintain that program over time. And that usage, that 40 lbs. is about 20 to
25 percent total usage of what we call the Barrison which is our center campus. It’s
kind of like the student union center, you know, it serves a significant number of meals
a day, particularly at lunch time. So it’s not a huge buy-in but it’s a really good relationship
that developed between you know, the composting, the food service, and the students and actually
to close that loop. So we often say that university you know, everything that comes into composters
starting on campus and then the product’s being used on campus and then it’s being eaten
on campus and then it comes back to the composter if it’s not, not eaten. These students are actually looking to add
I say have the money and funding to actually add a second high tunnel in 2014 and that
will actually build, be built this spring and of course their demand for compost is
going to continue to increase. The other piece that you have or the other
end use for this is we have an ornamental heart research farm called the Rogers Farm
and they take a fair amount of that material over on the farm in order to do their research
projects and amend some of the farmland they have there. There’s another student organization
called the Black Bear Food Guild that operates during the summer and it is an organically
certified production system. We’re in the process right now of certifying the in-vessel
composts so it can be used in organic production. And this takes a period of time to document
temperatures and duration in order for that to happen. And our winter farm is our
livestock research facility and because they get, they bring down some of our horse bedding,
we also provide some of the – back to them in order for their crop production fields
that may be low on organic matter and once you kind of give that a little bit of a boost
and probably the primary use that we see on campus is that the sole amendment for our
landscape department, they grow all kinds of different floor gardens and walkways and,
and they’re actually trying to put it on some turf so it is a, a product that is going to
be highly valued come spring time this year. So, the economics from our project, the capital
investment was $400,000.00 and we assumed that there’ll be a payback of somewhere around
12 years in investment. It seems like a long time but that is strictly dollars for dollars.
It does not include the benefits through education and through the use on the compost
effect that’s being used on campus. When we sent the material off campus, we never got
anything back in return. We never had access to that compost coming back. Yeah, I’m doing this expense is we do have
a half-time FT command system and that comes out of our resource recovery operations and
it’s got Foster, spends about 4 hours a day, some days it’s two hours. Some days it’s six
hours. Some days it’s eight hours. To actually manage that system, you actually also has
a couple of student workers to actually collect the food waste that are actually paid to go
around and they work for resource recovery and they do all the tasks besides just collecting
food. What we don’t have a good handle on is one of the operational costs for example
the electricity that we’re actually using but from a research and green mountain technology
who built that system, in an overall university system is probably pretty insignificant. The cost savings that we have is the same
that we get, you know, we save the contract, the compost contract $65,000.00. We also assume
that we save about $12,000.00 annually in tip fees so this material going to the landfill
and we produce about 300 yards of finished compost on a yearly basis and if you value
that at $15.00 a yard which is probably on the low end for us, you know, there’s some
value there as far as adding it into our campus environment. Now some of the ones that you can’t definitely
put a number on, are the decrease in the carbon footprint that we have and also the educational
benefits that we’re starting to see from it. So even though the students were not involved
in the initial design and setup of the project, we certainly are getting a lot of buy-in from
our campus community you know, interest in what this program is all about, wanting to
see the project, wanting to bring the students out to actually learn about it and we’ve had
a significant number of our food service providers, everyone from dishwashers to just come out
and look at the system and say you know, this is what we’re all about and this is what where
the food waste is going and what the end product is and they can get really excited about seeing
where that food waste is going. And I have a couple of grad students that
are starting to work on compost issues and, and one of them is working doing some work
on the end product or the input of the end product looking at some of the nutrient requirements
on so there’s the educational benefits are building as time goes along. It has not all
been easy though. There are challenges along the way. Anytime you have a mechanical system,
you have mechanical failures and we’ve had to actually have this system empty at one
point in time. It was in the middle of January and if you go into that system, open
up, it’s quite a bit of ammonia there so we actually have to have hazmat operation come
in to actually clean it up. We lost a chain on the auger which was a significant mechanical
malfunction for us. This system was actually down for a period
of time in order to get it fixed but you know, we’ve overcome those issues, the company,
the green mountain technology stood behind the product has been a great partner with
us on this and get it going and we’ve been operational again for, well, we’ve been operational
for about a year and really don’t have that one major significant breakdown. The other
part is training your staff, giving staff training in, in cafeterias, food service centers,
you have a lot of student labor coming and going in that ongoing training, is a continual
issue and some of the things that we continually see are the little plastic buttercups that
they use for buttering rolls and bread and so on somehow end up in the compost and also
wrappers and so on and you know, it’s easier to separate that at the source than it is
at the end for us so we continually try to do training and have the staff administration
in each of the food centers do the training as new workers come into place. The other piece that we didn’t anticipate
is actually managing the ebb and flow of materials through the semester. So, like on Mondays,
you know, we get 60 barrels of material. On Fridays, we may get 25 barrels of material
and then during the break, during the semester break or during the summer, we only get maybe
20 barrels a week so how do you manage the ebb and flow in that system and we’ve been
able to manage that pretty good we actually have a back-up plan if we run over capacity
on our in-vessel system we’ve gone to a turner windrow system. Lessons learned, planning and participation,
you know, you really got to empower your staff and make, make everyone buy into it and you
know, get them involved. This is very much a systemic part of the university and it’s,
I can’t see it going away without a significant fight from a variety of different people.
The other thing is, I think people over complicate composting. You know, it’s, it’s really an
easy process and when done correctly, it’s just an amazing thing that can happen for
all people on campus so keep composting simple and just recognize how easy it can be. We’re going to continue to grow and my slide
gets messed around a little bit, oops, and one of the things that we’re going to do it
is we want to do more student research as we go and we also want to start looking at
postconsumer waste in particularly large events there on campus the president’s welcome we
did in 2013 is kind of a trial. We thought this is a great opportunity for our president
to tell our incoming students that we are a green community, that we compost and that
we compost food waste coming out of the cafeterias and we the event was challenging but
I think we’ve learned a lot from studying that process and moving forward. We’re also looking at athletic events, go
Black Bears during the play-offs this weekend in football, it’s great for us and also things
like graduation so that when the outside community contain a large event, we can actually cater
to our outside community who well, and a little bit of self-promotion here the main compost
school is is something that the university supports and we talk about food waste composting
and composting in general and the schools for next year are June 13th or June 23rd to
the 27th then October 20th to the 24th. So that I think, I’m done and I think I’ll
turn it back over to Melissa.>>Melissa: Great, thanks, Mark. I appreciate
it. Thank you for your presentation. We have received a number of questions. At this point,
we’ve got about 16, now 15 minutes left to go. For the participants who are still with
us, you may have seen that I have answered some of your questions as they come in so
I’m going to go ahead and start. We have 15 minutes so I’m just going to run through the
questions, what we’ll get to, what we don’t, we’ll try and answer later. So the first question is from James Mitzuka.
He says our town has a yard waste composting site. The piles are up to 50 feet high and
turned by machine. Can food waste be incorporated into this system? Odor is a big concern in
the summer and the site is locally unpopular and being relocated to an industrial site
close by. So James, I sent a link to a best management practices document that EPA put
together that is designed for food waste to yard waste, adding food waste into your yard
waste composting operation but if any of the presenters that anything else they’d like
to add or respond to this question, feel free. Go ahead.>>Peter: This is Peter. Can you hear me?>>Melissa: Yes, we can.>>Peter: Okay, great. I would recommend and
strongly recommend not incorporating food waste at that particular facility. If it already
has odor issues, you’re just going to compound those odor issues. Based on a variety of projects
that I’ve worked on over many years, aeration is critical to the process and a high static
pile system is not advisable.>>Melissa: Okay. Thank you. Peter, this next
one is for you as well. It came in during your presentation. It’s from Tracy Renkin.
The Syracuse bin’s picture looked like it was taken during the winter. Are there added
problems at colder temperatures? What happens when it gets really cold and I’m sure Mark,
you might have some input on that as well?>>Peter: That’s really a great question.
In looking at that box, you may have noticed that it’s insulated. Those wall panels have
an insulation layer and so what we see in cold climates is when the biology can take
hold and the mix can produce seed, it will be self-sustaining but there’s, there’s
two concerns. One that if you over-aerate a compost pile with cold air, you stand the
possibility of cooling it off excessively but cold air is also very, very dry air and
so you also stand the possibility of drying it out such that if the moisture content drops
below 50 percent, maybe a little bit less than the biology simply stops and so in wetting
a compost pile, you cannot do it by top applying water. You need to physically remix that material
and get that water remixed through a shearing type process. So it’s sensitive to cold conditions. It certainly
can be done but there are other provisions that need to be incorporated into that process
and that’s something that we do incorporate in all of our designs, too, in those types
of regions like northern Vermont, northern New Hampshire, Canadian, any of the Canadian
projects that we worked on.>>Melissa: Great. Mark, did you want to add
anything to that?>>Mark: No, the in-vessel system is also
inflated and we you know, we had temperatures in January last year was you know, five below
outside the temperatures, the in-vessel system was still 160 degrees so as Peter said,
as long as you manage the compost, and understand the conditions that you under,
you can compost year round.>>Melissa: Great: Okay, our next question
is from Samantha Stalraz and Peter, this is for you. Why can some products only be handled
by authorized individuals as in the St. John’s case study, what products might fall into
that category?>>Peter: Yeah, that was interesting. In that
particular case, it was bedding material out of mice and rat cages where those were used
for research, the animals were used for research of some type and it was just university policy
I don’t know if it was a state dictum or not but it was university policy that students
would not handle those materials. Really, the person asked that question of is Tom Goldsmith
with St. John’s.>>Melissa: Yeah. Okay. This next question
is from Peter Marcolis. He says all very interesting, you need a front end loader to feed the O2
earthflow. There’s too much liability for universities to have students to do this task
so you must need a trained staff person to operate the loader. It seems that you need
an almost full positioned person to manage the system other than the food management
company. Therefore you apply, oops. Sorry, I lost – same person to operate the loader.
It seems you need almost a full positioned person to manage the system other than the
food management company. Before you apply the thermal blanket, how
do you control the odor and vectors? It seems like too many variables and labor for a university.
How do you overcome those challenges?>>Peter: Go ahead.>>Mark: I’m sorry, go ahead Peter.>>Peter: Well, in the case of St. John’s
the containers are sealed and so the vectors, there’s no attraction at that point and when
they have a mixing event, I think it’s once a week or so, then everything gets mixed immediately
and yes, they do require a front end loader and yes it is a staff position, not
a student run piece of equipment so that is one of the logistical constraints in the process.
When you add, let’s say we’re filling half of a bin or a bay then what we do is we apply
a layer of finished compost to the top of that even though we’re not all the way full
and that serves to mitigate the odor impacts and dissuades the critters from getting in
there.>>Melissa: Great. Mark, did you want to say
something about it as well?>>Mark: Yeah, just real quick, it goes back
to the dressing that you got to get all the different aspects and stakeholders on campus
involved because you are going to need support staff from your facilities in order to do
composting.>>Melissa: All right Peter, how big are the
pilot boxes shown and I’m assuming this person, it’s from Randy Tows, means the micro bins.>>Peter: Yeah, micro bins, if it’s a 4 X
4 which is basically two sheets of plywood, some lumber, uh; they hold about two and a
half cubic yards. 4 X 6 X 4 box is just under 4 cubic yards and you can make them larger
but the, the, I mean I think I answered that – two and a half to four cubic yards
thereabouts.>>Melissa: Okay. Second question in that
area, this is from Andrew Cushing, how much does it cost to do the pilot ASP program?>>Peter: Well, the systems, the smallest
systems that we generate a total budget of about $1,200.00. That’s not including you
know, labors but if your students are, are constructing the systems, SUNY Cobleskill received
one of our grants and they took the package and had a number of students build several
different boxes as one of their classroom exercises so it’s very much a hands on exercise
but budget around $1,200.00, something on that order.>>Melissa: Okay. On aerated static piles,
how much does the aerating mechanism cost? Can that be installed in the absence of an
electrical grid connection?>>Peter: Yeah. The cost of the equipment
is not significant. You can for the kinds of blowers we use for this small system, you’re
probably in the $300.00, $400.00, $500.00 range. However, and yes, they can be operated
off the grid with solar power but now you’re talking quite a bit of money probably
in the order of $4,000.00, $5,000.00 to get setup for that.>>Melissa: Yeah.>>Peter: We did a project last summer in
California where we were operating a three-zoned aerated static pile system and that was all
solar so most definitely can be done, whether it can be done year-round, I’m not sure in
the northern climates in particular where you have a lot of overcast days but you know,
technology is certainly there.>>Melissa: Okay. Does composting on a concrete
pad reduce the biological interaction of the soil and slow the compost process?>>Peter: Uh, no. The soil really has nothing
to do with it. We work on an impervious surface, to protect surface water and groundwater primarily.
The only influence that the ground would have is it’s a heat sink and it wound tend to draw
heat out of the pile and again we’re kind of getting back to extreme cold weather conditions
so something would need to be done in that regard but in, in terms of the soil contributing
anything to the biology of the system, no. All the microorganisms are in the mix already.
You do not need to add any fancy powders or solutions although there are many products
out there, not to say that they don’t help the process but in my experience, all of the
microorganisms that need to be in the mix are already in the mix.>>Mark: Anything on that is if you continually
compost on a bare soil or open field and you run equipment over a period of time, that
equipment’s going to deteriorate that soil. We encourage our guys to compost on impervious
surface because of the equipment operation as much as anything else.>>Melissa: Oh, okay. Good. This question
is for Joel Blice. I’m not sure he’s still with us. For setting up a composting system
at a university, do you shred the food before putting it into the compost pile? I’m thinking
about meats, bones, etc. and large items.>>Joel: Yes. We, I mean our pulpers and our
utility rooms we put all of the food scraps through the pulpers so outside of I mean anything
that we would pull out obviously would be plastic, any tin foil, aluminum. If there
are visible bones, we would pull those out just to save the operation of the pulper but
everything else does go through our pulpers and does go into the compost.>>Melissa: Okay. Great, thank you. Do any
of the campuses successfully compost the food waste with the compostable plate slash silverware?>>Dr. Kney: We have it in Lafayette. We’ve,
we’ve tried it. It, it doesn’t compost very quickly. So what we’ve ended up doing is if
we do have it, we do have a windrow where the food will sit for a lot longer and so
that’s where we put it but we haven’t had, unless we shred it up pretty fine but that’s
a process in itself. They don’t go through our pulpers very well.>>Melissa: Okay.>>Peter: And that’s one of our challenges
going to post consumer. We’re currently doing only pre-consumer and that’s one of our challenges
going post-consumer is that same issue.>>Melissa: Yeah, okay. The next question
is what is the best method to deal with 30,000 lbs. of food a month? And I don’t know if
we can really answer this question because there are so many factors regarding a particular
proposed operation that it’s really hard to say without more information. I don’t know
if you guys have anything else to add to that.>>Mark: This is Mark. One of the questions
I’d add is why 30,000 lbs.? Is it the number of people or do we look at opportunities to
reduce the actual food prep that’s going in and how can we start the top as you showed
in the pyramid, I think that’s one of the things we ought to think about.>>Melissa: Yeah. One last quick, well, we’re,
we’re pretty much almost done. We’ve got about one more minute. But there was a question
about where and how the leaves were and other carbon sources were found and brought to the
compost sites. This was during the Lafayette presentation.>>Jorge: Okay, repeat the question, please.>>Melissa: Where and how were the leaves
and other carbon sources found and brought to the compost site and if you can answer
that as quickly as you can, Jorge, I appreciate it because we need to wrap up.>>Jorge: Yes, the leaves and grass
clippings and things like that come from our, our fields, our lawns and things like that
and we bring them down to a remote site which is not too far from the campus, about three
or four blocks away actually and that’s where we store it.>>Melissa: Great. Okay, thank you. The rest
of the questions we’re going to have to answer at a later date because we are out of time.
I’d like to thank Peter Moon, Art Kney, Stacey Dorn, Jorge Xiques, Joel Blice, and Mark
Hutchinson. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedules to give your
presentation today and most of all, thanks everybody for dialing in and participating.
This Webinar series was designed for you so make sure you complete our survey and give
us feedback on how we can meet your needs going forward and that concludes today’s session.
Thank you everybody! [End of Audio]