Bridgewater College institutes composting pilot program
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As food composting programs spread throughout the United States, Bridgewater College is moving forward with plans to enhance its sustainability efforts and environmental stewardship. The college recently implemented a composting pilot program for all of the food waste from its dining hall.
“Bridgewater College has always been environmentally conscious, but there’s always more that can be done,” said Anne Keeler, vice president for finance. “By instituting the composting pilot program, we are committed to do even more to help protect and preserve our environment.”
The benefits of composting are numerous. When composting waste instead of sending it to the landfill, less methane is released into the air, reducing emission of greenhouse gases. Diverting the food waste from the landfill also avoids adding even more waste to rapidly filling landfill areas. “Composting discarded organic material returns the nutrients to the soil, supporting efforts on the Bridgewater campus and elsewhere to sustain healthy soils and grow food without chemical fertilizers,” said Dr. Deva O’Neil, assistant professor of physics and campus sustainability committee member.
The pilot program is also providing excellent educational opportunities for students. Heather Latham from Bristow, Va., and Zack Salisbury from Front Royal, Va., are two senior environmental science majors who are currently interning with this pilot composting program. Students are able to learn the process of composting, as well as the business and outreach aspects.
A collaborative effort was required to make this pilot program a reality. Waste Management of Virginia, Inc. partnered with Black Bear Composting, located in Crimora, Va., to enable Bridgewater to collect and compost its food waste. The dining service at Bridgewater, provided by Parkhurst Dining, has also been integral in the success of this program. The dining staff is able to collect the food waste from different elements of the food preparation process, thus maximizing the potential for the amount of waste collected.
“The composting pilot program is going well despite initial challenges,” said Teshome Molalenge, director of the center for sustainability. He added that the program has the potential to influence attitudes and behaviors regarding waste minimization efforts on campus.
Bridgewater College is a private, four-year liberal arts college located in the Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Founded in 1880, it was the state’s first private, coeducational college. Today, Bridgewater College is home to approximately 1,800 undergraduate students.