Glenwood Junior High will reduce food waste with new composter
By Jordyn Grzelewski
In a review of its food waste, Glenwood Junior High School found 50 percent of the waste could have been recycled or composted.
Now, school officials expect a new program to make a significant dent in that number.
The school will begin using Earth Tub, an industrial-size composter for which Glenwood received a $16,000 Ohio Environmental Protection Agency grant to purchase and install. Science teachers and cafeteria workers were trained Tuesday on how to use the machine.
“The food services are going to be using it instead of throwing compostable foods away,” explained eighth-grade science teacher Laura Frost, who applied for the grant. “It’s going to decrease the amount of waste here significantly.”
Teachers estimate the program will reduce the school’s food waste by approximately 36 percent.
The composter, made by Green Mountain Technologies, holds up to 3,000 pounds of material. The material will be a mixture of food waste and bulking agents, such as leaves or wood.
“Basically, it’s going to break down food waste – fruits, vegetables – and we add wood bulk or leaves to it, and there’s a motor that breaks it down even further,” Frost said. “Then eventually it’s going to be soil.”
The large, closed tub – which is installed in the school courtyard – features mixing and aeration systems that speed up the process of breaking down foods, explained Green Mountain Technologies composting engineer Van Calvez, who led the training sessions.
Teachers said the machine will not only reduce food waste, but will provide learning opportunities for students.
“It’s very open-ended, so there is a lot of variety,” Frost said.
She said students learning about runoff could investigate the differences in runoff from compost versus regular soil, for example.
After the composting process is complete, classes will use the compost product for other projects, such as gardening.
Teachers believe the program will provide a bigger-picture lesson, as well.
“I think that this is an area that all citizens are going to need to know, because waste is an ever-increasing problem,” Frost said. “Educating them now is only going to help the problem.”