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 Marketplace at the Residential Colleges. In fall 2014 the compost program expanded to collect food waste from other campus dining facilities including the Marketplace, Rebel Market, Freshii, and Ole Miss Catering. During the 2014-15 academic year, the UM Composting Team composted more than 30,000 pounds of food waste. The program has again received funding to expand in fall 2015.
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.
Why does Ole Miss compost?
In a landfill, layers of trash block the flow of oxygen to decomposing food scraps. This results in the release of methane, a potent gas that traps heat in the atmosphere. Food in a compost pile breaks down naturally, greatly reducing the impact of your breakfast, lunch and dinner.
How does the UM Composting Program work?
The program employs a team of four Green Student Interns to collect food material, including fruits, vegetables, grains, eggs, coffee grounds 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 amendment, which is then used at various gardens both on and off campus. If you are interested in using compost from the project in your garden, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 3,511 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.