Sustainability at USM

Food Waste Recovery

In Gorham USM has been recovering food waste for many years.  A local pig farmer picked up the food at the Brooks Student Center twice a week. Due to the level of contamination in the food from lack of sorting and the distance he had to travel, he charged the University $500 a month to remove the food waste. Recently we negotiated with a new farmer at a reduced price of $200 a month. The average weight of food collected has been 3,000 pounds a week while school is in session.

 Trash, Food, Recycling, and Returnables

In 2013 USM Portland we partnered with Garbage to Garden, a local curbside composting company, to place a collection unit in the Woodbury Campus Center Food Court. They built us a custom unit to help users correctly sort their waste (shown to right). Currently we transport the food waste from Portland to Gorham weekly so all USM's food waste goes to the pig farmer. We still use Garbage to Garden to both pick up compostable materials from and deliver finished compost to the USM Community Garden in Portland. 

Additionally we have been working with the USM Dining staff to collect more post-consumer food waste from their operations. The catering team now often provides public food bins at events and food pails for cleanup after events. In addition, the staffers at the food service kiosks around campus unwrap and compost expired food instead of throwing it in the trash. We are now collecting 300 to 400 pounds a week in Portland.

The cost to dispose of this material with regular waste would be $7,000 annually. Our current cost is $2,000. This is an annual savings of about $5,000.