If you're coming to the cafeteria, check out this guide to composting!
Since its inception, composting at Warren Wilson College has been student driven. The Recycling Crew initiated compost collection in the cafeteria and at residential staff housing in 1990. Food waste was delivered to the Garden Crew, who processed the waste with horse manure and plant material, and used in their garden beds.
In January of 2003, an independent composter approached the garden manager about establishing a small scale composting operation that would allow us to recycle more food waste from the dining hall, and provide him with scientific research to prove the benefits of his process. Unfortunately, the project did not have enough support and momentum to be successful.
During this time, cafeteria compost responsibilities were shifted to the Recycling and Solid Waste Crew (RSW). In January of 2004, we decided that we would stop using the experimental system and investigate more appropriate methods of composting that would handle our waste and could be permitted by the state.
After experimenting with different options, Phil Shaw, class of '05, a student took on the project of researching composting operations across the country to find the best fit for the needs of the school. We determined that the BW Organics GreenDrum, and in-vessel rotary drum, would best serve our school. As part of a class assignment, the student wrote a grant proposal that was eventually adopted and modified for submission to a local, private non-profit organization that funded a great deal of the project. Students worked directly with state officials to obtain a pilot demonstration permit and the compost equipment was delivered in February 2005 and went online in April 2005. Since then, we have centralized, built up and expanded our compost processing site. The area now includes the drum, amendment storage, concrete curing quads, and a screening area. We have also received a permanent small, Type 3 Solid Waste Compost Facility permit from DENR.
The GREENDRUM at Warren Wilson College is a Model 512 , manufactured by BW Organics of Sulfur Springs, TX. It is part of a category of composters called "in-vessel" units, and it is a rotary drum. The in-vessel drum is able to compost meat, dairy and cooked food items as well as raw vegetable waste. Here at Warren Wilson College we compost pre and post-consumer food. This particular design was chosen for a number of reasons. It was relatively affordable compared to other systems. We bought a used demo model with the generous anonymous grant of $20,000. We spent more money on top of this making it OSHA compliant, wiring it, and replacing some older parts (approximatly $5,000-7,000).The fact that it is closed allows us to compost virtually any material we like without the fear of attracting pests like rodents or dogs. Using an in-vessel composter also allows us to control the environment in which the composting takes place. We can control temperature, moisture, oxygen concentration, and so on. Having the ability to control all of these factors allows us to compost very efficiently.