school at Davis Publis Schools in Utah

Soon after we started looking at disposal options, a new business broke ground on the south side of our district: an anaerobic digester — the first in Utah. Anaerobic digestion is a natural process that breaks down biodegradable materials in an environment that is void of oxygen.

The process creates renewable energy in the form of biogas and a nutrient-rich fertilizer. The biogas can be used as fuel or converted into biomethane, a gas often used for heating or electricity. In addition to creating renewable energy, this would also reduce emissions of landfill gases because we are diverting biodegradable materials from the landfill.

Before we got too ahead of ourselves, there were many factors that we needed to consider in order to make the program work:
• Weight of the food waste
• Additional time requirements
• Pest management issues
• Odor concerns
• Separate storage
• Hauling
• Getting buy-in

Even though it was the same amount of trash leaving the cafeteria, removal needed to happen in a different way. We were using 44-gallon receptacles, but the weight of the food was too large. We decided to switch to 1-yard totes to help transport the waste.

The trash also needed to be stored in separate dumpsters. To prevent potential pest and odor issues, the food waste dumpster needed to be well-sealed and emptied on a very regular basic, as well as cleaned often.

We also worked with our waste management company to tackle expected challenges. We arranged for biodegradable material dumpsters and reduced the size of both regular and food waste dumpsters (to reduce the impact of loss of parking or school space). We created a plan for regular cleaning, designed a method for implementation that allows for the best use of resources (regarding the haulers time and fuel), and we worked together to create a schedule to dump food waste cans in an effort to avoid pest and odor issues.

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Alternatives To Traditional Waste And Recycling
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Gaining Support For Sustainable Initiatives