Office of Sustainability

University of Mississippi

Composting at Ole Miss

The pilot composting program at Ole Miss began in the fall of 2013 after receiving funding from the Green Fund. The project was awarded $3,000 to collect pre-consumer food waste from the Residential College dining facilities. The composting program has, once again, been awarded funding to expand the project to collect food waste from other campus dining facilities  during the 2014-2015 academic year.

What is composting?

Composting is the process by which organic materials are broken down by microorganisms at relatively high yet stable temperatures. This process results in the generation of nutrient rich soil called humus.

How does it work?

The composting team collects raw food material including fruits, vegetables, coffee ground, and eggs and combines it with nitrogenous materials including wood chips and leaves. These materials are combined and decompose on a plot at the Maynard W. Quimby Medicinal Plant Garden on campus. The decomposed material creates a rich soil, which is then used at the Willie Price Lab School Learning Garden.

Success

The 2013-2014 academic year saw overwhelmingly successful implementation of the UM Green Fund’s pilot composting project. During both the fall and spring semesters, pre-consumer food waste from the Residential College’s kitchen was taken to the medicinal plant garden to be composted. In total, the project diverted almost 6,000 lbs. of food waste from the landfill resulting in the creation of 19 cubic yards of compost. The project’s net positive impact on the atmosphere is equally noteworthy. An overall analysis of the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from the composting project (as opposed to the food waste decomposing in a landfill) found that the project reduced GHG emissions by 1.25 equivalent kg of CO2 per pound of food waste composted. The net total of GHG emissions reduced was over 8 tons! Special thanks to Dr. Cristiane Surbeck’s Chemical Engineering 471 class for conducting the environmental analysis for the composting project.

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