Composting & vermicomposting

Composting & Vermicomposting

When people make the decision to recycle, more often than not, they forget about recycling nutrients. Composting is in its most basic sense the recycling of nutrients. According to the EPA, 26% of the municipal waste stream is made of compostable materials ( In landfills, this releases methane gas, but when allowed to break down aerobically in a compost pile, it becomes valuable nutrients. Compost is a nutrient-rich natural alternative to chemical fertilizers used in conventional gardening. Vermicomposting is the process in which worms ingest food scraps, digest them and then excrete castings--a valuable agricultural amendment.

In Spring 2012, the Green Fund approved an $18,944.00 vermicomposting project as a way to reduce waste and turn it into something effective and useful. The initial proposal included funding for the purchase of the 8' x 32' industrial-scale continuous flow reactor vermicomposting unit and an initial 100 lbs of Eisenia foetida (red wiggler) worms. Examples of foods that have been composted would include vegetables, non-citrus fruits, eggshells and coffee rinds. Pre- and post-consumer food scraps are collected daily and transported to the off-campus vermicomposting site.

Partnership with Western Tech and Hillview Urban Ag Center

The UWL vermicomposting program began in collaboration with Hillview Urban Agriculture Center (HUAC) as an innovative means of reducing the amount of food waste produced on-campus. HUAC, a local non-profit organization focused on sustainability, maintains the vermicomposting system and provides logistical support. As of December 2011, the program has diverted greater than 40,000 pounds of food material from the UWL solid waste stream and produced more than 2,000 pounds of finished worm castings.