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ULV sets sights on composting with food waste audit

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Brooke Grasso
Editorial Director

Facilities management and Bon Appétit held the “scrape your plate” food waste audit for 24 hours from Feb. 18 to Feb. 19 to help the University take its next steps toward making a more sustainable community.

Students scraped all of the leftover food off their plates and into labeled containers to determine how much food is being wasted by Davenport Dining Hall each day.

The audit will tell facilities what route they can take to recycle the food waste in an efficient way.

The change comes after Assembly Bill No. 1826 was passed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014, requiring every business to recycle its organic waste in order to help fight the impacts landfills have on air and water quality.

“Food waste in landfills puts methane, a greenhouse gas, into our air,” founder and principal consultant at Waste Less Living, Christine Lenches-Hinkel said. “When you eliminate the inputs, you eliminate the fuel for the fire.”

As of April 1, the University will be required to recycle all of the waste that comes out of Davenport.

Facilities management has been working with Lenches-Hinkel and Waste Less Living, a business dedicated to helping consumers turn their trash into something beneficial to the planet, instead of going straight to landfills.

The audit will determine how much waste should be expected to come out of Davenport each day.

Once the results from the audit are complete facilities will be able to decide how they can dispose of it, how many and what type of machines will be required.

“Each machine has a different capacity, in order to get the right machine we need to know how much food waste we produce,” Mehran Mohtasham with ULV’s capital planning, facilities and space management said. “It would be like needing a car that has 300 horsepower and buying one with only 200, it won’t fit your needs.”

Many components go into the choice of the machines such as accessibility, safety, maintainability, cost efficiency and more, Mohtasham said.

In order to recycle the organic waste extra steps will be added to the dining experience, with either students or Bon Appétit workers feeling the affects of the food audit.

“Bon Appétit has been a very good partner with us on this, they are very agreeable and committed to the changes,” senior director of physical plant operations and services, Robert Beebe said.

All organic waste will need to be scraped into a trash can, either by students or by Davenport employees, which will then be placed into a large machine about the size of a clothes dryer.

The waste will initially be put into a food pulper and will then be transferred into a food dehydrator.

The end result is coffee-like grounds that can be used much easier than the waste in its natural state.

Beebe said that composting waste in its natural state is very difficult for the University, but with this new process it would be easier, more efficient and better for the planet.

Composting without the machines is very potent smelling, and also leaves a messy trail.

Transporting the wet trash leaves marks on the cement, leading to a need for pressure washing. However, because of the drought this is not the best option, Beebe said.

The University’s sustainable garden behind the health center will be given as much of the waste as they can utilize in their soil for their crops.

“We can certainly give a few coffee cans full to the sustainable garden, they can have as much as they want,” Beebe said. “The truth is we will generate incredible amounts more than they could ever use. We want to make sure it’s getting put to good use.”

Since there will be more waste than the garden can use Waste Less Living is helping facilities find farming agencies near La Verne that will benefit from the waste.

Using organic waste in soil has many benefits.

By sending the waste product to farms, ULV would be helping cut down on the Methane that is released into the atmosphere by landfills. When organic waste is used in soil the carbon is sequestered into the ground and helps maintain healthier soil.

In addition, when there is organic waste in soil it has a greater water-retention rate.

Less watering is necessary and less of the contaminated water runs off into the oceans, polluting our water.

This is not the first step facilities has made in the direction of making a more sustainable campus.

A total of $637,000 has been spent in the past three and a half years on sustainable projects to decrease electricity, water use and other helpful changes.

Brooke Grasso can be reached at brooke.grasso@laverne.edu.

Correction: March 11, 2016
In the original version of the story “ULV sets sights on composting with food waste audit” (March 4) the name of Christina Lenches-Hinkel was misspelled. The Campus Times regrets the error.

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