Warren Wilson College’s Recycling Center is currently processing compost from the cafeterias, residence halls and employee residences through an in-vessel rotating drum system. In that system, the compostable material, along with a bulking agent like wood chips or sawdust, is fed into a drum where moisture, temperature and aeration are controlled.
At capacity, our current system is able to process 7.5 tons of compost each month. Unfortunately, the drums are simply incapable of holding the food waste and other material we need to compost to keep it from going to the landfill.
With grant money from WNC Communities and WNC Farmers Market designated for a composting demonstration site, the College is currently building it on campus. With this partnership, we agreed to build the site and accept compostable material from the WNC Farmers Market.
Because this new composting operation requires a dedicated piece of loading machinery, Warren Wilson College Recycling and Waste Management Supervisor Jes Foster wrote a grant proposal to the TVA Ag & Forestry Fund and was awarded money to purchase a loader.
The new system will incorporate six active compost bins. This new system will allow us to process up to 65 tons of waste each month. In addition to being much faster and working at a higher capacity, our new system will be able to decompose a larger variety of materials. Some of these include compostable plates, cups, paper towels, pizza boxes, animal bedding, and manure. Because of the high capacity of the bins, we will begin accepting waste from off campus.
This project has not just involved the Recycling Crew. Landscaping Crew, Farm Crew, and Facilities Management have all been a part of making this a reality.
“We’ve forged some mutually beneficial partnerships in the community on this project,” Foster said. “The new composting system will serve as a collaborative and practical demonstration site that has some very clear environmental and educational benefits for the College and the larger community.”
Story and photos by Emma Luster ’16