November 1, 2006
The composting of more than 100 tons of food waste a year saves $3,000 to $4,000 annually at Johnson State College.
The program began in April 2005 with a $9,000 grant from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources to compost Dining Hall waste at the college instead of paying to landfill it at $100 a ton. The program also regulates the collection of other recyclables, such as paper, glass and plastic.
The goal of the program is to eliminate 75 percent of the trash waste stream through reuse, recycling and waste minimization. As a result, there are many changes in the way food, packaging, and other wastes are handled.
Participants in the program include Aramark Corporation (the college's food service), JSC Maintenance Department, Casella Waste Management, and Footbrook Farm in Johnson.
All non-biodegradable material removed from the Dining Hall is landfilled. Renovations in the dishwashing area capture additional food waste. To comply with sanitation requirements, all food waste is collected in barrels lined with special bags that biodegrade in the compost pile.
Bags collected twice weekly by Casella are delivered to Footbrook Farm where they are punctured and food waste mixed with a carbon source (usually hay and/or sawdust). The waste breaks down in the compost pile at 130 degrees Fahrenheit, and then totally biodegrades into carbon and oxygen in one month before being spread on fields.
Students and staff are educated about the waste management and recycling programs, with appropriate receptacles placed in offices and hallways in college buildings. The program serves about 1,100 on-campus students and about 100 full- and part-time staff over a 45-week period when the college is operating.
The program is administered by the college's Maintenance Department, and overseen by the Campus Green Community Planning Committee with representatives of all major participants.
Other eco-friendly projects at the college include replacing lights with more energy-efficient fixtures; installing a new oven to bake organic bread; and creating an indoor organic herb garden.