Volunteer Dining Composting Efforts Presented at National Conference

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KNOXVILLE—Representatives from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and ARAMARK Higher Education, the university’s food service provider, recently spoke at a national conference focusing on creating sustainable campuses and communities.

The 2011 Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Conference, held from October 9-12 in Pittsburgh, Pa., is the largest North American conference focused on sustainability in higher education, drawing more than 2,500 participants.

Jay Price, environmental coordinator for UT facilities, and Samantha Wentworth, sustainability coordinator for Volunteer Dining at UT, presented at the AASHE Conference on the success of their collaborative partnership in implementing a composting program on the UT campus.

Over the past 10 months, efforts made by UT and ARAMARK have diverted 17.75 tons of pre-consumer organic food waste from entering area landfills. The organic waste is captured through dining facilities on campus and turned into compost at the campus composting facility, located across from the UT Medical Center. The rich compost, which includes food scraps, coffee grounds and wood chips, is used around the university, including the campus greenhouse and flower beds.

Wentworth said she was pleased to share UT’s experience with other higher education institutions that are interested in implementing similar composting programs.

“The benefits and success of our program far outweigh the initial challenges we encountered,” Wentworth said.

UT’s composting program was made possible by a $58,000 allocation from the Student Environmental Initiatives Committee in October 2010. Some of the funds were used to purchase composting equipment, including a skid steer to move and turn the compost, a sifter to filter the compost from rocks and tool storage shed. In the spring of 2011, UT Recycling added a water pump to rinse out compost bins and created an additional compost site at the UT Culinary Institute.

This fall, the program again expanded with composting of all game day food waste from UT’s Neyland Stadium skyboxes. UT Recycling is also planning to add three more compost sites on campus before 2012.

In conjunction with the conference, ARAMARK sponsored the 2011 Student Summit on October 9, hosted by AASHE and the National Wildlife Federation Campus Ecology Program. More than 700 student attendees collaborated on campus sustainability projects, initiatives and solutions.

For more information on UT Recycling, visit http://www.pp.utk.edu/Recycle/. For more information on the 2011 AASHE Conference, visit http://conf2011.aashe.org/. For more information on the 2011 AASHE Student Summit, visit http://conf2011.aashe.org/program/aashe-student-summit.

C O N T A C T:

Jay Price (865-200-7662, recycle@utk.edu)

Samantha Wentworth (865- 974 0335, wentworth-samantha@aramark.com)

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