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Clarkson University Runs On...Trash?

Students Put Leftovers to Good Use

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Engineering a Brighter Future for Uneaten Cafeteria Food

Last year the students at Clarkson University created an on campus food waste management system that is currently saving the university roughly $12,000 a year. What's the secret? Leftovers. The idea of using food scraps to create fertilizer is not new, but the students have taken this idea to a different level.

Food waste from the university dining halls (approximately 650 lbs per day!) goes into a solar heated anaerobic digester. Once inside the sealed capsule the food scraps break down, creating biomethane and nutrient rich fertilizer. The biomethane is then used as an energy source on campus. The fertilizer is used to grow vegetables in the energy efficient greenhouse. The dining halls use the produce in their meals and any uneaten food waste goes right back into the digester.

Not only is the university saving money on waste management, but they are also saving on their energy and fertilizer costs. The facility design allows produce to grow in any climate, including those that are cold or have a reduced water supply. This system uses 90% less water and far less nutrients than most. With this system being sustainable, cost effective, and brilliant, maybe we'll see more facilities like it sprouting up in the near future!

-- Brie Sullivan