When composting rhymes with fight against wasting… food

When composting rhymes with fight against wasting… food

Together in a sustainable fight against waste!

As a partner of the GreenCook project, the Nord-Pas de Calais Region is actively contributing to reducing food waste by carrying out experiments and starting pilot projects in 10 selected secondary schools. The aim? To make people more aware of the frequent waste of food in school restaurants, to try out innovative approaches and find concrete and sustainable solutions which will then be shared with all the dining facilities in the Region, a total of 159 producing close to 11 million meals every year.

The electromechanical composter… a remarkable pilot project

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As part of this initiative, at the beginning of 2012 the Nord-Pas de Calais Region installed an electromechanical composter at the Tilloy-les-Mofflaines agricultural college. A pioneering installation that is well worth a visit! It consists of a composting machine, a maturation area and a refining sieve.

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This system makes possible the “recycling” of the organic waste produced, in particular by the college’s catering service. The electromechanical composter accelerates the decomposition of organic matter, thus promoting the production of nutritious substances that can be re-used for fertilising the college’s agricultural land on which it grows its own vegetables, including potatoes. Every day a master composter, working with the catering team, collects the organic waste to feed the composter. The first compost is usable at the end of a three-month cycle.

The main aims and challenges

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This composting installation has many advantages.

  • Personal involvement. Prior to the composting process, sorting bins have been installed at the exit from the college canteen to encourage the students themselves to sort the organic waste on their plates: left-over meat, fish, starch, vegetables etc. Thanks to the integrated weighing system, they also gain an appreciation of the volume of food waste they produce and the amount of waste produced in general.
  • Economic advantage. This installation makes it possible to sort at source ; the students collect and treat the organic waste themselves. This sorting at source leads to a significant reduction in costs as the school no longer has to rely on a third party to treat this waste.
  • Environmental benefit. The installation of the electromechanical composter makes it possible to reduce the carbon footprint of the overall waste management on the Tilloy-les-Mofflaines site. The treatment of this waste is actually done on site, and manually, thus eradicating the pollution that would be produced by its transport and management, plus the compost is then re-used. In this respect the electromechanical composter meets the regulatory aspect ensuing from the new law, nº 2010-788 of 12/07/10, which invites producers of large quantities of waste to "implement sorting at source and promote ecological practices (…) aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions and favouring returning waste to the ground."
  • Nudge in an ecological direction. Local composting is a way of educating people in greater eco-citizenship. This installation is actually a first step towards greater ecological awareness on the part of students, especially concerning waste. This approach will over the long-term enable them to change their consumption habits and make them responsible eco-citizens.

Students heavily involved

Since the beginning of the new academic year 2012, the management and teaching teams have put in place an information and communication system aimed at the students, particularly through lessons given by natural and earth sciences teachers. The aim? To give the students an understanding of the importance of waste in the life-cycle, its effect on the global environment and the solutions that can be brought to bear in countering this most contemporary of issues. GreenCook project student ambassadors on the steering committee also work alongside the catering team and the chef on strategies designed to reduce food waste.

A project that seeks only to be an example for numerous others…

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