Campus Food Waste Becomes Energy

Samantha Zeitz

Feeding a University takes a lot of food but that also means a lot of food waste. The University of Notre Dame is partnering with the Office of Sustainability to put waste and emissions that come with it to good use. Through the Grind2Energy system, Notre Dame will be converting food waste into renewable energy and reusable by-products.

Campus dining at Notre Dame is currently responsible for ten percent of the University’s overall waste, contributing over 2,000 pounds of food waste per day. According to Notre Dame News senior program director of sustainability Allison Mihalich has said, implementing Grind2Energy will minimize non-consumable food waste by 99 percent.

In order to achieve these goals there will be three insulated 5,000 gallon tanks installed at the school. They will each grind and hold food waste for 14 days and then be sent to Homestead Dairy. There, the methane buildup from the food waste will be separated and used for energy to heat Homestead Dairy’s farm. Any extra energy will be sold back to the electrical grid. After the gas has been removed, the leftover by-product will be used for dairy bedding and fertilizer.

There is already a tank in use at the Centre for Culinary Excellence. The other two tanks will be installed in each dining hall and should be completed by the end of April.

The University had already been looking into ways to reduce their waste and environmental impact but nothing caught traction until a group of students stepped forward. Chemical engineering major Matthew Magiera provided fundamental information to help turn the project from an idea into a reality. Through his internship at the Office of Sustainability, his work could change the way Notre Dame deals with food waste for years to come.