Post-Consumer Food Waste Management

Vermicomposting in Finch GreenhouseScraping perfectly good food into trash cans and garbage disposals fills landfills, provides additional loading to wastewater treatment plants, generates additional greenhouse gas emissions, wastes money, and is unjust to the nearly one billion people worldwide who are undernourished. While eliminating trays in dining halls to buffer against our “eyes being bigger than our stomachs,” Western also began to investigate ways to “upcycle” the nutrients contained in discarded food. Based on a 2009 composting best practices study by alumna Sarah Campbell, the Office for Sustainability launched a pilot vermicomposting research project in 2011. Composting post-consumer food waste presents unique challenges, and WMU continues to investigate cutting edge practices that mimic biological processes (a concept known as biomimicry). 

Current research examines:

  • Challenges related to vermicomposting post-consumer food waste such as the treatment of meats, dairy, fats, and oils
  • Domesticated black solider fly larvae
  • Anaerobic bio-digestion