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Thursday, April 19, 2012

SU Partnership Turns Food Waste Into Fertilizer

SALISBURY, MD---How much food does it take to equal nine tons? If Salisbury University has its way … about a week’s worth.

Through a partnership with Delaware-based Blue Hen Organics, SU Dining Services hopes to defer about nine tons of food waste from local landfills each week classes are in session.

Starting this semester, instead of being trashed, apple cores, pizza crusts, half-eaten burgers and other leftovers from the Commons, along with paper napkins and waxed cardboard boxes, have been transported to Blue Hen’s composting facility. There, it is compressed into dry, odorless, rice-sized pellets used for fertilizer. While most of the end product is sold to area farmers for large-scale use, a small portion of it returns to SU’s Horticulture Department for use in campus greenhouses.

“This represents a full circle for the material,” said Wayne Shelton, SU sustainability and environmental safety director. “Waste leaves the campus and is transformed into a beneficial product, then is returned to improve our campus grounds.”

During SU’s annual Earth Day celebration, scheduled 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday, April 26, in Red Square, Blue Hen representatives are expected to exhibit a sample of the fertilizer pellets made from the University’s waste. Student organizations and other sustainable businesses also participate.

Since February, the program has spread to other eateries on campus, including Cool Beans coffee shop and East Coasterz carryout, both in the Guerrieri University Center. The University’s catering service also participates, and soon off-campus individuals and organizations renting SU facilities will have the option of including special compost-only trash containers at their events to make them more environmentally friendly.

The University already is considering ways to make the process even “greener,” including upgrading to a larger overall collection receptacle to decrease the number of trips it takes to haul waste to the Blue Hen facility, helping to reduce the carbon footprint. Since the program began, nearly 70 tons of food waste has been processed, representing a decrease of nearly 60 percent in landfill use.

Others are taking notice. Recently, Delaware’s Harrington Raceway and Casino contacted Rebecca Rosing-Johnson, SU grounds and horticulture manager, to tour the University and find out more about the program with an eye toward implementing a similar one at its facility.

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.



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