APPC Begins Worm Composing Project

September 23, 2010

The Annenberg Public Policy Center recently installed a worm composting system to reduce the amount of food waste in the building and to educate staff about the composting process.

Based on an informal survey, APPC staff determined that they produce enough kitchen waste to warrant a small composting project that would complement waste reduction efforts already in place at the Center. The staff opted for a worm system instead of an outdoor composting system that could attract pests.

Food and plant waste such as coffee grounds, filters, tea bags, fruits, vegetables, bread, and dead flowers are all tossed into a stacked tray system containing about 1,500 red wriggler worms. The worms are placed at the bottom of the trays on moist bedding material (usually paper) and are then covered with the food scraps and another layer of bedding material. When the worms are finished digesting the paper and food in one tray, they migrate up to the next tray in the stack.

APPC Content Developer and Eco-Rep Ellen Iwamoto has high hopes for the composting program at the Center, which is already generating enough food scraps to feed the worms on a weekly basis.

“Using worms makes composting fun and gets conversations started,” Iwamoto said. “Several people have stopped by to see the worms, and ask questions about composting. Our graphic designer, Jen McCleary, made some great posters for the composter and kitchens explaining how it works.”

Compost will be used as fertilizer for both indoor and outdoor plants at the Public Policy Center, as well as at the Penn Women’s Center’s new garden. The first harvest of compost is anticipated to be ready in mid-October, when Green Fund applicants will begin submitting proposals for the next round of new, innovative sustainability projects on campus.
For more updates on the Annenberg Public Policy Center worm composting system and other Green Fund projects, visit the Green Fund page on the Penn Green Campus Partnership website.

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