Erin Stanforth (right), sustainable practices coordinator for Portland Community College, shows off the rocket composter to staff and faculty at its unveiling ceremony on the Rock Creek Campus in northwest Portland.
Device is just the fourth
of its kind in the U.S.
Portland Community College is proving that composting and creating an effective closed loop recycling system isn’t rocket science.
Last week, the college’s Rock Creek Campus joined a select few institutions of higher learning in the United States in improving its sustainability by unveiling its new rocket composter. The rocket, which will help recycle post-consumer waste, is the fourth of its kind in the U. S., the only one west of the Mississippi River and the lone rocket composter in the country being used for post-consumer waste like plastic and paper service ware.
“We really walk the talk,” said Rock Creek President David Rule. “People talk about sustainability, but PCC, and Rock Creek in particular, are really doing it.”
The composter was entirely a student-driven process.
“A lot of us have been looking forward to this day for quite awhile,” said Jeff Christian, student sustainability volunteer. “It represents technology that is underrepresented and fairly new in the United States.”
In essence, the rocket composter is a self-contained, continuous-cycle composting unit, Christian said. It allows daily feeding of service ware and the harvest of compost. To speed up the process, it regulates water, temperature and humidity to facilitate four stages of the breakdown of the compost.
The Rock Creek Campus already has an award-winning loop system featuring red worms that break down leftover food scraps. But as Christian said, the 40,000 worms in the campus composting bins have their limitation and cannot break down plates. Before the rocket composter, the campus had to send all of its post consumer waste to the local landfill.