Lakehead tests new composter to divert waste from landfill
By Alicia Alves
Lakehead has installed a new composter in the main kitchen in order to divert waste from the landfill. Staff will collect uneaten food from the cafeteria to put into the composter and then haul the compost out of it to use as soil. Hugh Briggs, director of the Physical Plant at Lakehead, hopes to use this compost material to regenerate the Bora Laskin playing field.
Sustainability has been important for Lakehead for many years, and Lakehead has talked about installing a composter in the past through student initiatives and sustainability initiatives. The problem has been the cost, wildlife, and how to do it efficiently for our type of campus.
“I know the benefits of a composter first hand,” says Briggs who uses one for his garden. “The problem is that you can’t have those traditional compost bins in a setting like a campus that we have here in Thunder Bay. We’re too close to the bush. We have too many wild animals on our campus already, and I don’t want to create a smorgasbord for bears. That’s what it could create.”
Now that these issues have been looked at, as well as how other universities have handled their composting projects, the composter is at Lakehead; Briggs points to how it benefits the campus.
“It puts the university on the leading edge of this type of composting in Ontario, and it diverts waste that would otherwise go out to the landfill, which is filling up fast enough as it is,” Briggs says.
Briggs is not sure how much material the composter will generate yet, so for now Lakehead plans to stockpile the material over the winter and will decide what to do with it then. Briggs hopes to use the material for the playing field behind the Bora Laskin because it is heavily used.
“I want to promote a healthier, stronger playing field,” Briggs says. “I say playing field because it’s small enough that I think I will have enough material to do it. I want to use a small enough space that we can see what it does and measure the results.”
Lakehead has tested the compost material at the soil testing lab at Natural Resources Management to check for heavy metals. The result was good compost material. Lakehead will continue to check the compost material to ensure it remains that way.