If you went to the dining halls for lunch this past week, I’m sure you noticed Elly, Bea, Jay, myself, or some other members of our staff telling you to scrape you plate before putting it on the conveyer belt. Are you curious as to why we’re making you dump your extra scraps and napkins into huge trash bins? Well, be curious no more! UT Recycling uses your extra waste for composting!
What is composting?
Composting is nature’s process of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil known as compost. So basically, we’re recycling your food!
How is it done?
Food waste is collected from all campus dining locations and select buildings and taken to our composting facility by UT Medical Center. Once there, the food waste is combined with wood chips and separated into long piles called windrows. The windrows allow the waste to biodegrade aerobically, which is faster and reduces the potential for methane production. Periodically the windrows are turned and watered to manage temperature and biodegradation.
Where does it go?
Most finished compost will be taken to the UT Organic Farm off of Alcoa Highway. The compost will be used as a soil amendment to fertilize their crops, which hopefully one day will make it to your plate at a UT Dining location. Some compost may be used for erosion control on campus. Some of it may even be used at the Body Farm. We like to keep your food wastes within UT!
So next time you hop into a dining hall to eat, remember to scrape your place with any extra food or napkins!
Until next time!