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If you're coming to the cafeteria, check out this guide to composting!
Since its inception, composting at Warren Wilson College has been student driven. The Recycling Crew initiated compost collection in the cafeteria and at residential staff housing in 1990. Food waste was delivered to the Garden Crew, who processed the waste with horse manure and plant material, and used in their garden beds.
In January of 2003, an independent composter approached the garden manager about establishing a small scale composting operation that would allow us to recycle more food waste from the dining hall, and provide him with scientific research to prove the benefits of his process. Unfortunately, the project did not have enough support and momentum to be successful.
During this time, cafeteria compost responsibilities were shifted to the Recycling and Solid Waste Crew (RSW). In January of 2004, we decided that we would stop using the experimental system and investigate more appropriate methods of composting that would handle our waste and could be permitted by the state.
After experimenting with different options, student Phil Shaw, class of '05, took on the project of researching composting operations across the country to find the best fit for the needs of the school. We determined that the BW Organics GreenDrum, and in-vessel rotary drum, would best serve our school. As part of a class assignment, the student wrote a grant proposal that was eventually adopted and modified for submission to a local, private non-profit organization that funded a great deal of the project. Students worked directly with state officials to obtain a pilot demonstration permit and the compost equipment was delivered in February 2005 and went online in April 2005.
Once the GreenDrum was up and running the food waste stream started to increase above its processing capacity. In 2010, a second smaller GreenDrum was purchased in order to process more food waste generated by the campus. At this point in time Recycling Crew was processing about 500 lbs of food waste per day. After a few years the mechanical problems started to become more and more frequent and with no on site mechanic there were many days when the food waste had to be hauled off campus to be processed. It was then decided that a new composting system was going to be needed in order to keep all compost operations on campus.