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Projects Updates for Large-Scale Food Waste Composting

  1. PWR SWATeam Minutes 3/29

    Meeting Minutes 3/29

    During this meeting, the PWR SWAT Team coordinated with Marya Ryan, the new Zero Waste Coordinator. We discussed previous campus efforts for multiple different projects like composting and recycling as well as introduced ourselves to one another. 

    The SWAT Team also was updated on progress with reviewing the Paper Policy Draft comments and will finish this review by next meeting. 

    Furthermore, a discussion of composting efforts on campus was discussed and an effort to create a comprehensive map of waste pickup routes will be created. 

    Next meeting is TBD.

    Attached Files: 
  2. Archived iCAP page information

    Associated Project(s): 

    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is pursuing development of a large-scale food waste composting facility on the University’s property, in order to compost food waste from University dining halls.  This interest is precipitated by the commitment made by the University in the 2010 Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP): “The University will commit to… a large‐scale food composting project by 2012.” The new facility will initially receive and process all acceptable pre- and post-consumer food waste from six dining halls on campus, as well as supplementary landscape waste as necessary carbon bulking material from Campus Grounds. In the future, if needed, the system may accept additional landscape waste from the city of Champaign as well as livestock bedding and other animal-related organic waste from the University’s Agricultural and Animal Sciences Departments. The finished product will provide rich compost material to agricultural projects on campus such as the Sustainable Student Farm, as well as to campus grounds and athletic fields.


    The University of Illinois is dedicated to composting across the board.  There are three main academic campuses at Urbana, Springfield, and Chicago and two medical campuses at Peoria and Rockford.  We are in communication with all of these sites about the future of composting at the University.  This is an exciting opportunity for the sustainability contacts to work together and support each other in a major sustainability initiative.  Additionally, the University Extension office has a long history of supporting sustainability and has numerous resources for composting operations that we can call upon as the project progresses. 

    In 2008, the Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, pledging to become carbon neutral by the year 2050.  As part of this commitment, the University published “Illinois: A Climate Action Plan (iCAP)” in May 2010, describing several projects related to various aspects of campus sustainability.  This document is available online at  

    The Procurement and Waste aspects of campus sustainability are highlighted on page five of the iCAP.  It states “The University will commit to a Zero Waste campus policy by 2012, a large-scale food composting project by 2012, and target an increase in the University’s waste diversion rate to 75 percent by 2020.”  The specific project is listed on page 34 item 4 under Agricultural targets, as “Incorporate a large-scale food composting project by 2012.” 

    The composting project also has significant support from campus leadership represented by Associate Chancellor Pradeep Khanna, Facilities & Services as represented by Tracy Osby the Waste Management Coordinator and Jack Dempsey the Executive Director, and the students as represented by the Student Sustainability Committee.  The Office of Sustainability works closely with Facilities and Services to assist with the various projects in the Climate Action Plan, and will assist with project implementation and promotional information.

    Currently, approximately 1411 tons of food-waste is collected annually from the five major Dining Halls on campus.  Unfortunately, all of this waste is sent to the Clinton Landfill.  There was a small pilot composting project which diverted about five percent of this waste during the short pilot test phase, but it has not been in operation for the last year.  The proposed Large-Scale Food Waste Composting Facility will divert 100 percent of this food-waste and utilize Grounds department landscape waste to generate approximately 2,822 tons of high-quality compost annually.  The compost material will be used solely on University land, including the campus grounds, athletic fields, and the Sustainable Student Farm project.  Future expansion of composting operations could incorporate the animal waste at the Beef and Sheep Facility, which is directly south of the Compost Facility.   At that time, the finished product may be used on certain crop sciences lands.

  3. Campus Composting Progress

    Associated Project(s): 

    The firm that was hired last fall to complete the Compost Feasibility Study, Foth, submitted a draft of their study to the University in early January for comments.  Immediately following, F&S applied for $250,000 from the F-SCRAP Grant from DCEO, for equipment and site improvements for the Large-Scale Food Waste Composting Facility.  In order to apply for the grant, the University was required to commit to funding the remaining portion of the facility’s proposed budget, and an emergency phone meeting was called by the Student Sustainability Committee to assign funding toward this. The committee voted in favor and granted $250,000 toward the project.  A draft plan for the compost facility was also developed and distributed to key stakeholders in mid-January for feedback. 

  4. Composting Feasibility Study

    This proposal seeks to complete a feasibility study re: composting of campus food waste. The scope of work for this study includes evaluation of proposed composting sites and identification of the optimal location, specification of necessary site improvements, verification of analysis regarding program size and logistics and development of a program plan with capital equipment needs. This study will enable establishment of a food-waste program that will divert ~600 tons of foodwaste from the landfill annually (and accompanying methane and CO2 emissions), in support of the Illinois Climate Action Plan, and campus waste reduction goals. This project is also being supported by $7,400 funding from the Office of Sustainability. The Student Sustainability Committee is in favor of funding a grant in the amount of $15,000.

  5. Feasibility Study approved by SSC and CCRC

    Associated Project(s): 

    SSC confirmed funding of $15,000 for composting feasibility study 5/9/11.  Study approved 5/12/11 by Chancellor’s Capital Review Committee (CCRC) with Fall 2011 completion target.  Proposal requested from Retainer A/E Foth Engineering, which was also the A/E on the previous composting project before it was cancelled.

  6. Composting project discussions continue

    Associated Project(s): 

    Meeting with SSC and F&S to confirm details of composting feasibility study scope.  Kevin, Matt, and Morgan worked on completing the project request form.  Kevin, Carl, and Tracy worked on detailing the transportation charges budget.  Kevin also met with Dawn Aubrey about the food waste supply.

  7. SSC progress on composting project

    Associated Project(s): 

    SSC minutes from 10/8/10 include this update:

    1. Compost-Kevin
      1. Met with Ryan Welch
      2. Completely on board
      3. Right now all they have is woodchips and leaves
        1. Used for mulch, and tons of excess
      4. Met with Joe Kunkel from vet med
        1. Director of facilities
        2. On board with anything
        3. Animal science is the hold up, but right now it is composting
  8. Illinois Farm Sustainability Calculator

    Associated Project(s): 

    Is your farm sustainable?  How can you make your farm sustainable?  The Illinois Farm Sustainability Calculator can help you figure out these things out.  And it's pretty easy to use.  See the list of tabs on the bottom of your screen?  Navigate through them by using the grey buttons at the top of the sheets or by hitting ctrl+page down (cmd+page down on macs)  In each sheet, fill each white box with data from your farm.  Be sure to make a selection in all of the white drop-down boxes too.  If you don't know something, leave the default number or the default selection in place.  If your farm does not have ten separate fields, leave the extra field sheets unchanged.  Same goes for any extra ruminant, swine, and poultry sheets.

  9. Dairy Cattle Composting Facility study

    Associated Project(s): 

    Previous composting study “U08067 Dairy Cattle Composting Facility” reviewed options for full scale complete composting of animal, food, agriculture, and landscape waste.  Study was cancelled before completion because ACES ran into budget issues and the whole Dairy program was slated for potential reduction or elimination.

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