Housing and Dining absorbs the cost of food scraps composting program

Michael J. Collins

Facilities Management determined Tuesday that Housing and Dining would absorb the $3,500 cost incurred by the university’s composting program.

The deficit is a result of the Food Scraps initiative, which gathers food waste on campus for composting on the WKU Ag Farm. Before the program’s implementation last year, landscaping waste was the sole source of compostable material.

The costs of the program had previously been covered by the Agricultural Research and Education Center budget. It was determined that Housing & Dining should now cover the costs on the grounds that the department covers costs for other means of waste disposal.

Paul Woosley, director of the Agricultural Research and Education Center, oversees the composting program and said he hopes compost food scraps will become a cheaper alternative to dumping at a landfill.

“It looks like we’ve kind of got everything organized with how the program is going to run now since this is going to be the first full year,” Woosley said. “Each year, we’ll be able to apply for more grants to help improve the program as far as necessary equipment and advertisement, so there’ll be more opportunities for that going forward.”

Woosley said the majority of expenses come from transporting food waste to the Ag Farm where it is then composted into manure.

Once composted, the manure is sold to the city of Bowling Green or the public, with approximately $10k-$13k worth of manure sold annually.

Ken Branch, director of facilities management, said the decision was made with little hesitation from the departments. He credits the easy solution to the shared interest in improving the university and student experience.

“If we can do the right thing, the good thing for the environment and have the business rigor behind it, [the decision] comes easily,” Branch said. “Some people really stepped up and obtained the grant, did the research, the homework and the harsh study to get the program up.”

Despite interest in ensuring the food scraps program remains operational, Branch raised concerns over the cost of the program in the future should funding shrink.

“In the end, it costs more than dumping it in a landfill, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot,” Branch said. “The bottom question is can we afford to be doing the right thing in austere budget times.”

News reporter Michael J. Collins can be reached at [email protected]