The Sustainability Department at Marshall University in West Virginia is partnering with Sodexo to support the school’s creation of the XACT Systems BioReactor, the state’s first commercial composter and the first technology of its kind in the world to be used at a university, according to Marshall’s Sustainability Department. The department’s sustainability manager, Amy Parsons-White, spearheaded the project, collaborating with multiple university departments to gather a campus wide collection of office paper and landscape trimmings that would contribute to usable compost.
After working with state legislators to draft new policies on post-consumer food waste, Parsons-White says she is eager to share products from the university’s compost with the community at local farmers markets and plans on using these sales to continue funding the program.
The facility is designed to curtail roughly 750 tons of waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill, which aligns with Sodexo’s corporate commitment to easing the impact of climate change through reduced carbon emissions, sustainable food sourcing and responsible waste management.
The four-year project reached a pivotal point this past February, when Sodexo began providing both pre- and post-consumer waste for Marshall University.
The project, which has caught the attention of other universities such as Duke, Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia, was showcased to the public in a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 14, presenting a sustainable composter that puts off adding to landfills and offers new jobs in an up-and-coming field.
The composting facility is unique in its digester technology that is equipped to handle sizable volumes of waste efficiently using aerobic digestion that does not produce methane gas in the process. With the EPA estimating that methane accounts for about 20% of the global greenhouse gas emissions driving our earth’s rising temperature, finding ways to responsibly process waste without adding to methane production has become a priority of sustainability programs around the world. The advanced technology of the XACT Systems BioReactor used in the composter will effectively reduce methane production by 100 tons a year.