Warren Wilson College News

Composting makes a comeback on campus

By: Ben Anderson
After a false start or two, composting is back at Warren Wilson College thanks to the Greendrum. Which, of course, immediately begs the question: “What on earth is the Greendrum?”

For starters, its actual color is white, not green. But “green,” as in environmentally friendly, it definitely is too. 

Simply put, the Greendrum is a self-contained, in-vessel composter. It consists of a chopper/mixer, auger conveyor, electric motor and insulated rotating drum.

Philip Shaw, student compost manager, did exhaustive research and contacted other institutions in an effort to identify the best option for an effective composting system. He recommended that the college purchase the BW Organics 512 in-vessel composter, or Greendrum, which it did after receiving a generous grant from a local foundation. The composter arrived on campus from Texas in February, and began operating in April after the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources had issued a pilot permit.

Initially the Greendrum is being used to compost waste from the Gladfelter Dining Hall and Cowpie Café. “Once these waste streams are diverted,” Shaw says, “we will begin looking into collecting dorm, building and housing compost as we once used to do.” 

Several steps are involved in the Greendrum composting process. Students from  the recycling crew collect and load food waste from the cafeteria and café. Sawdust – initially from the carpentry and campus support crews – is added to balance the carbon/ nitrogen content and moisture.

After about five days the compost is unloaded using buckets, then left to cure for three to four weeks. After the process is complete, the landscaping and garden crews se the nutrient-rich material, thus returning it to the earth and closing the cycle.

“Composting is an integral part of a sustainable community,” Shaw recently told The Echo, the campus newspaper. “We are all excited to start using this amazing piece of equipment.”

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