Just in time for spring, Fort Lewis College is becoming “greener”. It began at the Student Operations Summit in fall of 2009, when students declared sustainability a top priority for future funds. A study done in 2010 unveiled that Fort Lewis College students generated a collective .24 lbs of waste during each meal. Over the 31 weeks in academic year, the cumulative waste generated is 102.977. Based on this knowledge, the students decided their college’s waste problem was a pressing issue. Thus began a search for a composting system that could meet the sizable demands. Now after a long period of gathering support, funds, and research, the Rocket Composter is now up and ready to run. This new edition is predicted to eliminate 75,907 lbs of discarded food per academic year. This is waste that would otherwise occupy a landfill. This huge stride in waste management has helped the school meet its goal to reduce food waste by 70%, one of many goals found in the college’s Suitability Action Plan.
Presently, large-scale composting is relatively uncharted terrain. The United States has only nine campuses with Rocket Composters, making Fort Lewis a pioneer in campus composting. The composter is partly operated by the student organization the Environmental Center, providing unique opportunities for environmentally minded students to work with and learn from the composter.
Collaboration makes operation of the Rocket Composter possible. Sedexo’s participation has been the key in making the the compost dream a reality. Their staff sorts the disposed food from the dishes, putting it into their pulper machine, and preparing it for its micro-organismic journey to become compost. Sedexo’s eagerness to work with the school’s Environmental Center has created a great climate for positive change on Campus. We hope that our partnered success sets an example for other campuses, communities and businesses to explore the benefits of large scale composting.
~ Melanie Weber-Sauer