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, including the Marketplace at the Residential College, Rebel Market, Freshii, and Ole Miss Catering.
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 program employs a team of three student workers to collect raw food material, including fruits, vegetables, grains, eggs, and more, and combines it with dry, nitrogenous materials such as wood chips and leaves. These materials decompose for the duration of the semester on a plot of land at the Maynard W. Quimby Medicinal Plant Garden on campus. The decomposed material creates a rich soil, which is then used at various gardens both on and off campus.
The 2013-2014 academic year saw an 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 Civil Engineering 471 class for conducting the environmental analysis for the composting project.