Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 86.01
Liaison Patrick McKee
Submission Date March 6, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Connecticut
IN-25: Innovation B

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Richard Miller
Ofice of Environmental Policy
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Expansion of the Quantum Biopower Partnership

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

Quantum Biopower Partnership

In December 2017, UConn's Dining Services began a pilot program with Quantum Biopower and Willimantic Waste Company (UConn's waste and recycling hauler). After several years of using and experimenting with ways to minimize and divert food waste, including longtime use of in-kitchen eCorect dehydrators and a short-lived trial using the Enviropure technology to treat and discharge food waste as grey water, UConn learned about the new Quantum BioPower facility that was ready to begin operation within an hour drive of our main campus. The pilot program involved developing a process for collecting and hauling pre and post-consumer food waste from the newly-renovated Putnam Dining Hall. Dining Hall employees had to be trained and QA/QC measures taken to ensure minimal cross-contamination of the organic waste stream needed at Quantum BioPower. Putnam is one of eight dining halls on campus and is located in the Hilltop residential area. Quantum Biopower is a food waste/anaerobic digester, energy generating plant, and composting facility located in Southington, Connecticut, 45 minutes southwest of UConn's main campus. The state-of-the-art facility utilizes a high-volume anaerobic digester to convert the organic food material into renewable biogas that powers an energy generating gas turbine. The digester also accelerates the composting process to create a residual byproduct that harnesses nutrients for use as high quality fertilizers, soils, and compost.

Quantum Biopower’s waste diversion process can accept food material in the form of: food spoilage, packaged goods, expired beverages, dairy and meat products, produce products, fats, oils, and greases. Furthermore, the anaerobic digestion process is a natural, closed-loop process. It occurs without the use of harmful environmental chemicals, and captures methane emissions associated with the composting process, allowing for the steady and constant production of biogas energy.

In 2019, the program was expanded to include all 8 dining halls on the Storrs campus, as well as our University catering services, and a student-led pilot program that is currently in progress at the Hilltop residence halls.

The 2017 year diversion rate for food waste was 6.31 tons, and increased sharply to 357.53 and 273.33 tons in 2018 and 2019, respectively. This improvement by roughly fifty times the 2017 rate was due in full to the partnership with Quantum Biopower and the implementation of food waste collection from all dining halls.

A complete restructuring of our food waste collection process with Willimantic Waste was required to achieve this. Collection methods switched from weekly servicing of a compacting dumpster, to curbside bin pickup at each dining location. Willimantic Waste also purchased a new truck to service solely food waste to better adapt to the University's needs, which temporarily paused campus-wide collection at the beginning of the 2019 academic year. Due to these difficulties, it was not until November 2019 that the program went into full effect at all eight dining halls, including catering and the Hilltop residence halls.

Moving forward, based on our projections for each dining location on data collected since Nov. 2019, future annual food waste diversion to Quantum Biopower should exceed 700 tons.

Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Public Engagement
Food & Dining

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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