ISU Dining Composting

Project Description:

This project involves installation of equipment and procedures to collect pre- and post-consumer food waste, specifically at Union Drive Marketplace, Residence Hall Dining Facility, in order to divert it from the landfill and the water treatment plant. The project began with a full-scale investigation of a variety of equipment and procedural solutions that could be implemented; the UDM facility and its opportunities and challenges as related to each solution; and overall resources (funding, staff, space, transportation, etc.) that are available in order to support a particular solution.

Diversion of food waste through composting was determined as a priority, and composting began the 09 fall semester. All collected materials are taken to ISU’s Compost Facility. Determining the most effective and appropriate  methodology as related to consolidating food waste for composting (i.e. pulverizing food waste via a pulper to minimize the transportation and composting of liquids and bulky materials or off-line sorting into collection containers with no additional manipulation of the food waste) is a primary focus of this project.

Efficiency and effectiveness of this process and the implemented systems and procedures are continually monitored throughout this project with the intent of expanding composting efforts to all five Dining Centers, as well as all campus dining locations.

Project Contact:

Nancy Levandowski, 515-294-7578,

Mark Huss, 515-294-6111,

Project Financials:

Loan Amount: $45,000

Return on Investment: Project costs are estimated at $50,000 - $100,000. Expected annual savings equals $9,000/year with a payback period of 5 years and a realized savings period of 5.5 years.

Project Outcomes:

In addition to the annual budget savings for ISU and Iowa taxpayers, this project serves as a demonstration project that will be disseminated throughout Iowa State University dining facilities as well as dining establishments and programs in the Ames community. Once a template evaluation and checklist process is completed and verified, food waste diversion solutions will be considered for other dining locations around campus.

As well as gleaning tangible landfill and water treatment cost savings of the direct impact of diverting food waste, savings is also realized through the reduction in the purchase of topsoil and soil amendment materials due to the resulting material that the composted food waste will generate. In essence, a closed-loop, cradle-to-cradle system of reinventing our own waste into a viable, necessary, and valuable commodity, is created.

Project Status:



View complete project profile