Editorial: UConn food waste program benefits campus and environment

 Students eat in Putnam dining hall, one of the dining halls on campus that uses anaerobic digestion processing to deal with food waste. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

Students eat in Putnam dining hall, one of the dining halls on campus that uses anaerobic digestion processing to deal with food waste. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

Anyone who has ever been to a UConn dining hall knows that there is a lot of food that does not get eaten. However, most students probably don’t know what happens to this wasted food once it gets placed in the dish return. Recently, UConn has been using anaerobic digestion processing methods to deal with food waste on campus. Anaerobic digestion, to those who don’t know, is when food waste is not dumped as trash but converted into energy.

This process is much more simple than many might think. It starts with separating out food waste from the dining halls and then shipping this waste to the factory that performs the anaerobic digestion processing. Dining Services project manager Mike O’Day described these methods as the process of “taking any waste product and digesting it in the absence of oxygen to maximize methane production.” This methane can then be used to produce electricity efficiently.

While this program is relatively new at UConn, only having started last December, it has already been immensely successful in the dining halls in which it has been implemented. Currently, the strategy is being employed in all dining units except Buckley and McMahon, however eventually it is planned for these locations to be included in the process.

This program is an amazing opportunity for UConn to continue moving toward an eco-friendlier future without requiring a high cost or extra labor from the university. As implementing this process does not take any extra machinery and uses minimal extra labor, it is relatively cheap for UConn. In addition, while many people are often against certain renewable energy resources due to their unsightly nature, this issue does not accompany the anaerobic digestion process. Not only is the plant that does the processing not in Storrs, but the actual factory in Southington is relatively unobtrusive and modern looking. Therefore, by participating in this program we are allowing our food waste to be taken care of for a low cost that helps the environment without the typical worries that plague renewable energy resources.


Our campus is always looking to become more sustainable and environmentally conscious. Being productive with our food waste is one step in the right direction. There is always room for improvement, and we should continue these efforts by expanding this program to all dining halls. UConn is showing initiative to be better for the environment in a time where this is more crucial than ever.