Mercyhurst begins composting

The Office of Sustainability at Mercyhurst University in collaboration with Parkhurst Dining Services begins a long-awaited composting initiative this week on campus.

Composting — a process by which organic waste materials decay and form a rich soil that can be used for farming or landscaping — is an environmentally friendly alternative to sending such materials to a landfill and is less energy-intensive than recycling.

Two composting receptacles, known as “Earth Tubs,” have been situated at the southeast corner of Warde parking lot, where kitchen food waste will be composted and, in turn, returned to the Mercyhurst landscape as nutrient-rich soil for flower beds and fertilizer for lawns. The composting not only will limit the university’s purchase of lawn and garden materials but reduce what Mercyhurst sends to the landfill.

“This is one of the key pieces of Mercyhurst’s sustainability profile that has been missing and we are eager to start the process,” said sustainability officer Brittany Prischak. “Our campus has made great strides in the area of sustainability, including our purchase of 100 percent wind power a couple years ago, but this is a basic and important addition.”

Prischak said the composting bins, which feature power mixing, compost aeration and biofiltration of processed air, cost $19,000. They were paid for through grant funds as well as the student sustainability fund at Mercyhurst. Aramark completed the installation work.

Prischak said the tubs can process an estimated 150 pounds of food waste a day and, at that rate, take 20 days to fill. The food waste is a combined with equal amounts of wood shavings that the university is obtaining free from local woodworking businesses.

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