Indexed on: 16 May '20Published on: 07 Jul '19Published in: International journal of environment and waste management
In an effort to curb monetary and environmental costs of food waste disposal, colleges and universities are developing composting programs. Incorporating additional on-;site wastes could improve composting efficiency and provide cost savings. A living laboratory team of faculty and students with expertise in biology, engineering, and economics investigated non-;food organic wastes as co-;compostable supplementary feedstocks with dining hall residues. The interdisciplinary learning environment inspired students to develop a specialised sampling method using nylon mesh bags embedded in large bins to monitor biotic and abiotic composting responses. Bark, leaves, and paper were equally effective as co-;compostable wastes. Economic analysis showed that incorporating non-;food organic feedstocks into food waste composting could save $17,500 USD per dining hall per year when balanced with waste disposal or recycling costs for these materials. This project shows how a living laboratory approach can address local waste management issues with sustainable economic practices by examining alternative disposal methods of common organic wastes.