Green Corner: As food waste adds up, Rider looks toward sustainability

Eating and living on campus can be convenient for students, as it’s easy to just walk into Daly’s Dining Hall or Cranberry’s and fill up on food. There are unlimited options and access to tasty food can be as simple as filling out a slip of paper. However, a vast amount of choices comes with a high amount of waste.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food makes up 20 percent of what goes into municipal landfills. Waste includes food scraps, paper napkins, wooden coffee stirrers and coffee grounds/filters. This does not include anything made of plastic and non-organic trash. These leftovers end up rotting in landfills where they account for a large portion of the country’s methane emissions. Rider, in partnership with Aramark, the university’s food service provider, does all it can to reduce the campus’s waste and contributions to greenhouse gas emissions. To reduce trash, Rider uses various technologies to dispose of waste in the most eco-friendly way possible.

Utilizing the bio-digester that was installed in the back of Daly’s in 2014, Aramark converts food waste into gray water. This machine has the capacity to divert an average of 2,800 pounds of food per week from the landfill and can digest up to 400 pounds of organic food waste into waste water in a single 24-hour period. The gray water that is produced thereafter is safe for drains and sewers, and saves labor and money, ultimately creating a more effective food waste management system.

Aramark also takes other sustainable actions with organic waste. They filter and reuse fryer oil and have it picked up and taken to a facility to be turned into biodiesel fuel. Furthermore, all produce, dairy and bakery items are sourced locally which has various benefits including reducing transportation costs and carbon emissions, as the trucks don’t have to travel very far to provide these items. On top of that, Aramark supports local businesses.

While Aramark’s efforts are essential, the role of students counts, too. How many times have we loaded up a plate of food in Daly’s only to dump part, or all, of it into the garbage?  The removal of trays from the dining facilities in 2008 helped reduce the amount of post-consumer food waste, but there is still a good amount of food being wasted.

The next time you’re in Daly’s, consider the ways our school has successfully reduced our emission levels and think about the importance of shopping locally to support our area’s sustainable agriculture. Utilizing Trenton Farmers Market just a few minutes down the road is a great way to do your part. To learn more about food and organics and how you can make an impact, join the Rider Lawrenceville Eco Reps in Daly’s on Thursday, Feb. 23, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for our “Weigh the Waste” event. Come see for yourself how much food is wasted in just one hour.

—Melissa Willhouse

Lawrenceville Eco Rep

 

Printed in the 2/15/17 issue.

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