University News

WIU Receives DCEO Food Scrap Composting Grant

June 26, 2013

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MACOMB, IL -- When adults told us at mealtime to "clean our plates," it wasn't just for the sake of ensuring we were getting the proper nutrients, but to reduce wasting "perfectly good food." They were on to something.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food waste makes up the largest percentage of waste going into municipal landfills. To combat this issue, Western Illinois University recently received a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Ecnomic Opportunity (DCEO) for the DCEO's Food Scrap Composting Revitalization & Advancement (F-SCRAP) program. Mandi Green, WIU sustainability coordinator and one of the co-authors of the grant, said the goals of the campus food waste composting program are to divert as much food waste from the landfill as possible and to produce a high-quality and beneficial addition to campus gardens. The $24,000 grant will allow Western to purchase two additional Earth Tubs and 12 collection bins.

Five years ago, Western purchased an Earth Tub food waste composting system, with most of the cost of the $12,000 system offset by grants. In 2012, during eight months of active food service on campus, approximately 21,742 pounds of food waste were collected and turned into compost.

"Current collections are approximately 100 pounds per day from our campus dining center," Green added. "With the purchase of two additional tubs and collection bins, we will double our current food scrap diversion rate. We will also be adding the University Union food vendors to the collection."

In addition to food scrap composting, Western composts all landscape waste, such as leaves and grass clippings.

The grant was co-authored by Tara Beal, landscape maintenance supervisor. Matching funds for the grant are provided by landscape maintenance.

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