UTM’s Hospitality and Retail Services installed a new organic waste digester system in Spigel Hall for a 60-day trial run beginning last Tuesday.
The system, supplied by Enviropure, breaks food waste into water that can be safely disposed of down the drain and works through aerobic digestion aided by an “all-natural bio-mix additive,” according to an email from Andrea de Vito, UTM’s assistant director of retail services and administration.
The system is the first of its kind to be installed at a university in Canada.
According to de Vito, the 60-day testing period to be completed with the help of the facilities department will determine whether the system is a good fit for UTM. If not, Enviropure has agreed to take the unit back, minus the cost of installation.
De Vito did not disclose the price of the unit itself, partly because the organic waste disposal cost is currently included in a general space cost, he said, which means a comparison is unavailable.
But “if this is something that works really well and it appears that there’s more environmental benefits to it than what we’re doing with the green bin and the trucking-off of the organic waste, then even if the cost is comparable […] the environmental impact is better,” said de Vito.
The test unit will handle all waste from the main commissary kitchen and all food outlets in the Davis Building. If the trial period is successful, said de Vito, UTM hopes to install machines at Colman Commons, the North Building, and the Instructional Centre over the next few years.
Hospitality and Retail Services also plans to put in a proposal for an ROP to allow students to test the water to determine whether the system meets all the requirements for wastewater for the Region of Peel.
De Vito said that the university had looked at one company besides Enviropure, as well as alternative methods of disposing of food waste.
Currently, organic waste at UTM is dealt with in small part through in-kitchen composting at the Blind Duck and a small-scale composting program for staff and faculty run by the greenhouse.