Mason Facilities and Mason Dining have partnered together with Natural Upcycling to collect and compost all food waste from the Southside Dining Hall to Western Branch, located in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Although not Mason’s first foray into composting (Mason’s Potomac Heights Vegetable Garden and Innovation Food Forest both take biodegradable waste for outdoor compost), this is Mason’s first large-scale, industrial composting partnership to take all food waste, including meats, grains, and coffee products.
- Students, staff, and faculty are encouraged to sort, and dispose or recycle non-compostable items, such as plastic bottles, to-go coffee cups, and candy wrappers before placing any food waste on the dish return in Southside.
- In Southside, after food waste goes into the kitchen, it is immediately placed into a pulper that pulverizes the food before going into a waste bin.
- Full bins are collected by Natural Upcycling and travels to Western Branch composting facility, located in Prince George’s County, MD
- Western Branch places food waste into a vessel, and monitors oxygen and temperature levels to create ideal composting conditions. The end product is a a nutrient rich dark humus-like material, and is sold as LeafgroGold. Sales revenue is returned to the County to offset the cost of the composting operation. For more information about their process, please visit Western Branch.
Why is Mason composting?
There are many benefits to composting:
— Less waste! Composting diverts waste sent to landfills, as well as reduces methane emissions from releasing into the environment.
— Richer Soil! Compost, as an end-product can be placed back into the soil, improves soil quality by retaining moisture and and increasing nutrient content.
— Saves money! Composting reduces Mason’s overall waste hauling costs.
Mason is doing a feasibility study to compost in other university dining halls. Stay tuned for updates!