Overview of Procedure
Ten University offices were
provided with a worm bin to compost employee food scraps and lunchroom waste. The plastic
boxes (1' x 1' x 2') are partially filled with shredded newspaper bedding and a pound of
red worms. Bins are kept aerated and moist for ideal composting conditions. Food scraps
are buried under the bedding, and worms aid in the decomposition process. Every 4 - 6
months, the finished compost and worm castings are harvested. Employees are welcome to use
the compost for gardens or houseplants.
A covered container is
kept in the break room in which employees place their food waste. Items such as banana
peels, apple cores, coffee grounds, and other vegetative leftovers are acceptable. Items
such as meat, fish, dairy or oils are not acceptable because they will cause foul odors to
develop in the compost. The food waste material is added to the bin each day. Compost
material is stirred periodically to ensure aeration and distribution of moisture, as the
moisture tends to migrate toward the bottom.
The worm composting bins only work
well for small-scale operations. Bins can handle between three to five pounds of food
waste per week, or a lunchroom area servicing 15 - 20 employees. The bin requires some
maintenance and oversight. Employees must be educated on what to keep out of the bin.
& Health Precautions/Personal Protective Equipment
Awareness by staff about
alternative waste disposal methods is increased. This raised awareness has encouraged some
staff to start composting at home.
The worm bins can only
handle a small quantity of food waste. This method would not work for the larger food
service operations on campus, unless a much larger and more complex system were installed.
Occasional complaints of insect pests
(fruit flies, spring tails, etc.) have been reported, but no serious insect infestations
have been linked to the bins themselves.