May 202010
A University of Wisconsin student received a grant to study composting.

In a state known for its farm communities, some college composting practices still need a boost.

“When I was a freshman I saw the huge amount of waste in campus dining services,”  says University of Wisconsion-Whitewater senior Alyssa Peschke, “and I wanted to make sure the waste could be reused…. We are one of the few campuses that doesn’t have any [composting] system in place,” a problem Alyssa took upon herself to solve.

With a $4,760 grant from the UW System Solid Waste Research Program, Alyssa embarked on an undergraduate research project entitled “Composting Feasibility Study for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.”

As explained in an article on the school’s website, Alyssa took the following steps to assess the best plan of action for a UW composting program:

  • Attended a waste management conference
  • Visited a water treatment plant
  • Visited other UW System campuses
  • Spoke with key officials from the campus food service provider
  • Interviewed professionals in the field of composting
  • Studied various composting techniques, including vermicomposting, windrow composting and in-vessel composting
  • Sited the best location based on cost-efficiency, safety regulations and research opportunities

Alyssa’s recommendation for UW Whitewater?

An on-campus composting site beside the greenhouse in the form of windrow composting, a system comprised of rows of organic waste managed by a machine called a windrow turner. 


For large-scale composting, such as college cafeterias, CompostMania recommends the 4-foot industrial size ProtaPod, a grub composting bin breaks down food waste in 2 days time.

What’s even better is that key school officials are taking Alyssa’s recommendations to heart. Not only does she have the support of the sustainability coordinator for UW-Whitewater, but the campus has already held a meeting to discuss a plan of action and Chartwells, the campus food service provider, is on board too.

It will be interesting to see how UW chooses to utilize its compost. Perhaps they’ll take a cue from Harvard where composting no doubt plays a critical role in the school’s pledge — to maintain the 80-acre campus grounds by organic means only within 2 years time.

Image Credit (top left):

Image (bottom right): ProtaPod

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