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2016 University News

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EPA Grant Supports WCU’s Composting Initiative

Pictured at the announcement are (L to R) Interim President Chris Fiorentino, Meghan Fogarty, Denise Polk, and Shawn M. Garvin.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was on campus Nov. 15 to recognize WCU’s sustainability efforts. The EPA awarded Denise M. Polk, professor and Interim Graduate Coordinator for the Department of Communication Studies, a $12,060 grant to support a food composting project that will help the University and West Chester Borough keep food scraps away from a landfill. This is Polk’s second EPA grant related to composting food waste.

Diversion of food waste for the University and nine participating Borough businesses began in September and will continue through October 2017 as a pilot study. In addition to the University’s Lawrence Dining Hall (with food service provided through Aramark), participants are Barclay Friends, Carlino’s, Chester County Hospital, The Hickman, Landmark Americana, Market Street Grill, Ram’s Head, Roots Café, and The Split Rail Tavern.

EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin joined Polk, WCU Interim President Chris Fiorentino, and Meghan Fogarty, sustainability coordinator for the Borough of West Chester, in announcing this project.

The event also commemorated America Recycles Day, a nationwide effort to raise awareness about the impact organizations and individuals who recycle can have on the environment at home, school, and work. Composting is one example of the environmental and economic benefits of recycling, since food scraps and yard waste make up 20 to 30% of the waste stream in the United States.

Some Benefits of Composting
  • Keeps 35 million tons of food waste out of landfills and incinerators annually in the U.S.
  • Reduces the amount of methane released into the air when food waste breaks down in the landfill.
  • Businesses that compost save money by paying less to dispose of their trash.
  • Farmers and landscapers who use the nutrient-rich compost reduce their reliance on chemical fertilizers and diminish harmful agricultural run-off.
  • Compost can help regenerate poor soils and reduce the need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides.

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