Food scraps thrown away by James Cook University students will be turned into high-value bio-fertiliser in a new green scheme being introduced at the Cairns campus.
Students will participate in food races today (March 18) competing to recycle a variety of food types in order to raise awareness of how the scheme works.
JCU Environmental Coodinator Lania Lynch said the scraps would be converted into liquid fertiliser in a Bio-Regen unit at the campus refectory.
“TropEco, the university’s sustainability program, has installed the units at both the Cairns and Townsville campuses so the kitchens no longer send hundreds of tonnes of food waste into land fill each year,” she said.
“The Bio-Regen System grinds waste food, adds water and microbes to help break down the food, then pumps the mixture into a bio-digester tank, which is located outside the kitchen.
“Once full, the bio-digester tank sits for 28 days to allow the food to be digested and converted into a new form that is suitable for use as a nutrient enhancer for plant growth.
“In the next month or so, JCU will begin selling the fertiliser to the general public and if we can generate enough of the product we hope to sell it to farms.”
Student Marenn Sagar said the JCU Sustainability Club and the JCU Permaculture Society were keen to extend the program beyond kitchen waste into a larger collection of food scraps from students and staff.
“We all can contribute to this project by placing approved food scraps into the smaller refectory bins which have laminated posters outlining what food is acceptable.
“The event today is aimed at educating students and staff about recycling food waste to improve our resource efficiency, save waste disposal costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide a great fertiliser to boost soil carbon and productivity.”
The initiative is one of many in the lead-up to JCU’s Sustainability Symposium and Fair, Challenging Consumerism: The War on Waste, at the Cairns campus on April 11.
In addition to the program of speakers, the free event incorporates workshops including recycled craft, a clothes swap, food, live music and stalls featuring the Kuranda Seed Savers and the Saltwater Creek Basketry Group.
To register: alumni.jcu.edu.au/2014SusSympFair
Issued: March 17, 2014
Media enquiries: Liz Inglis on 0419 643 494