Chandler-Gilbert College food program praised SanTan Sun News

Chandler-Gilbert College food program praised

September 23rd, 2019 development
Chandler-Gilbert College food program praised
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SANTAN SUN NEWS STAFF

Chandler-Gilbert Community College has won an award for its food waste recycling program.

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education gave the college its 2019 award for outstanding achievements in sustainability based on overall impact, innovation, stakeholder involvement and clarity.

“We are honored,” said college President Greg Patterson. “Our food waste recycling project not only exemplifies our commitment to sustainability. It also showcases our emphasis on collaboration across disciplines.”

Crediting “an outstanding team of students, faculty and staff” for launching and growing the program, Patterson  said, “The entire Chandler-Gilbert community will benefit from their dedication.”

The project is a grant-funded campus-wide initiative that the college says “offers deep, cross-disciplinary, experiential student learning via an innovative solution for CGCC’s food and green waste.”

Students and faculty worked together to establish a three-receptacle system that facilitates the separation of food waste generated on campus.

A group of biology and engineering students, with guidance from faculty, designed an organic waste digester machine to recycle food and green waste into a nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer, which will be used to maintain campus grounds.

In addition, biology, art, English and communications projects, students have started a marketing campaign that promotes a “sustainability mindset.

It’s aimed at “changing the behavior of how the campus community handles their waste through increasing awareness of what happens to our food after we dispose of it,” the college said.

Chandler-Gilbert students “play an integral role throughout this project, which offers a unique opportunity to practice translational science, bringing innovative ideas to the public while fostering critical thinking and confidence in their innovative potential,” the association noted.

The project “highlights both the research and implementation strategies and methods at Chandler-Gilbert and addresses the global need for sustainable waste management,” said CGCC Dean of Instruction Gabriela Rosu.

She called the association’s award “a huge honor that will help raise awareness for this innovative solution to one of the world’s most significant challenges.”

Association Director Meghan Fay Zahniser said Chandler-Gilbert Community College and the other award winners “demonstrate an inspiring passion for solving some of the world’s most complex challenges.”

“They are truly pioneering the campus sustainability movement,” she said.

The association is devoted to making two-year colleges and four-year universities and colleges “change agents and drivers of sustainability innovation.”

The college in May reported on the program and said: “to bring a project of this size to life requires many areas of expertise and participation by full time and adjunct faculty and staff from a wide variety of departments.”

“A main facet of this program is to provide students with a unique opportunity for collaborative, experiential, theoretical and practical learning opportunities through tasks associated with the program,” the report said, adding that it “has already become well integrated into campus life.”

It also noted that the “aerobic digester machine to recycle food and landscaping waste is not being utilized in Arizona,” and said the students have put the college “at the forefront of sustainable innovation.”

Project organizers foresee the project going beyond the campus in that the liquid fertilizer they produce could be distributed to farmers and other agricultural businesses, “essentially replacing or reducing their reliance on conventional chemical fertilizers.”

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