UConn Dining Services works to fix their food waste system


(Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

University of Connecticut Dining Services is in the process of remedying a problem with the EnviroPure waste disposal system at the Putnam dining unit.

The EnviroPure system turns food waste into environmentally safe grey water through a combination of mechanical and anaerobic chemical breakdown.

The system has not been operating correctly due to a complication integrating the troths used in the dish room, Director of UConn Dining Services Dennis Pierce said.

“This is the first time we’ve had a system like that and we’ve found that the troth system is what’s causing the issue,” Pierce said. “It’s providing too much water for the EnviroPure to operate correctly.”

Dining Services has ordered a retrofit that will solve the problem by allowing operators to manually feed food waste into the machine, Pierce said.  

“The company is bringing a retrofit so we’re going to change the process,” Pierce said. “Rather than have the troth water go directly into the EnviroPure we’re going to be feeding the food waste in manually.”

The retrofit is an appendage to the EnviroPure machine that will eliminate the water from the process.

The EnviroPure company has been cooperative and is going to give Dining Services the retrofit for no additional charge, Pierce said.

“The company is very good working with us; I’m very happy with them as far as supporting this add-on,” Pierce said.

The piece should arrive in approximately two weeks, but the change will likely not take place until spring break, Pierce said.

“The question is the time frame, we don’t have a lot of windows when we can do that,” Pierce said.

The university may look into incorporating the EnviroPure system into other dining units as a means to combat food waste on the UConn campus, Pierce said.

“We’re looking as we move forward to do a closed loop,” Pierce said.

A “closed loop” is the idea of all food waste being turned into something usable, such as grey water which can be used to water lawns, Pierce said.

“Historically, if you look at how dining services dealt with our waste in the early days, is waste would be thrown into the garbage, it would be brought into the dumpsters and then it would be brought down to Willy Waste and it would get processed on that end,” Pierce said.

This process was problematic because it largely comprised of wet garbage, which costs more money to be taken away, Pierce said.

“When you take wet garbage it’s really heavy, and the way we’re charged for our garbage, they charge us for a tipping fee (a fee for putting the waste on the truck) and the weight,” Pierce said.

This problem is resolved by the EnviroPure system.

“By having an EnviroPure in place you’re getting that wet, heavy-weight garbage out of the system,” Pierce said.

Dining Services also did not have control over what happened to the waste after it left the premises, Pierce said.

“The negative thing is that they had many options of what they could do with that waste: some of it’s put in landfills, some of it’s burnt,” Pierce said.

Another method of turning food waste into a usable product is burning it for fuel and that university may look into finding a company to carry out this process on its behalf, Pierce said.

“It is burnt to be able to create fuel – that seems to be the ideal method,” Pierce said. “The challenge is that we have to bring all those pieces together. We have to find a company that will take it and process it.”

These changes are part of a larger directive to make UConn waste-free by 2020.

“(The goal is that), by 2020, Dining Services shall be able to take care of 100 percent of its food waste,” Pierce said.  

Anna Zarra Aldrich is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at anna.aldrich@uconn.edu. She tweets @ZarraAnna.

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