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Food Program Keeps Tons of Waste Out of Local Landfills

St. Louis (KSDK) — For years we’ve been told to clean our plates, but let’s face it even if we do, there’s typically something, like a banana peel left behind.

“At this location we feed about 8,000 people a day,” explains Gary Suarez, an executive chef for Bon Appetit at Washington University.

So just imagine the egg shells the cooks have to discard. The good news is it no longer goes into a landfill.

“We take the non-usable part and we put it into a pulper, which is essentially a big food processor or garbage disposal, if you will. So that material is going to get ground up in here. It’s going to go through a set of piping that’s about 140 feet all the way to the back room,” Suarez adds.

It eventually drops into a big yellow tote as does what’s leftover on the cafeteria trays.

“We actually let the students leave their scraps on the plate and like their used napkin because we can compost those as well,” adds Jill Duncan with Bon Appetit.

And get this they’re collecting about 1,800 pounds of waste a week, which eventually ends up at St. Louis Composting.

“The truck will come in and dump their food waste and then one of our loaders will mix that food waste into a windrow. So we don’t just leave the food waste sit out we mix it and then cover it with more compost,” explains Ashley Bement with St. Louis Composting.

It’s eventually worked over with a big green machine.

“They’re big long rows, like 15 feet high, we let them process they get really hot, over 150 degrees and we turn them and in about six months we have compost,” Bement adds.

What’s amazing is how much food waste they receive a week.

“We get 100 plus tons a week of food waste,” Bement says.

That from between 30 and 50 companies like Bon Appetite at Wash U, which by the way, eventually sees that waste return to campus.

“Our food waste here is actually what makes this campus so beautiful, the company Top Care, does our landscaping and they actually use the converted waste, that’s been converted to compost, here on campus in all of our landscaping,” Duncan adds.

Which means they’re closing the circle.


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