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Keene State Wins National EPA Recognition for Composting

Food waste from the kitchen at Zorn Dining Commons
Food waste from the kitchen at Zorn Dining Commons

Here at Keene State, it’s easy being green! That’s because sustainability is a big part of our mission, so we build it into everything we do. We’re thrilled to be a top winner in the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s 2019 National Food Recovery Challenge.

The College took first place for being the institution of higher learning that saw the most growth in preventing or diverting food waste. In other words, most of the food waste from the Zorn Dining Commons – both the kitchen waste and what’s left over on students’ plates – is being composted rather than dumped into a landfill. It all comes full-circle, too: the rich soil created through the composting process goes into keeping the College’s lawns and gardens beautiful.

Keene State has an ambitious goal: to qualify as a zero-waste campus by 2030. In December 2017, as one step toward meeting that goal, the College’s composting program was ramped up. As the EPA stated in its announcement of winners: “In a year, Keene State more than doubled the amount of food waste composted. The weight of compost collected increased from 41.76 tons in 2017 to 110.66 tons in 2018. The reduced cost for composting, compared to landfillings, saved the school $4,324. As a result, Keene State College expanded composting to other food service vendors in the Student Center beginning the summer of 2019.”

Now, Keene State’s success will help other colleges launch or improve their composting programs, as the EPA will share the College’s story as a model of excellence in higher education across the United States.

“Keene State College is thrilled with the success of its expanded composting program,” says Dr. Cary Gaunt, director of Campus Sustainability. “Not only does it move the college forward in attaining its ambitious zero-waste by 2030 goal, but it saves money and models full-circle composting. We love that compost generated from Keene State food waste is returned to our campus landscaping as a nutrient-rich finished compost. The program is a “win-win” all around!”

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Keene, New Hampshire 03435