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UML Becomes ‘Innovator of the Year’ in Waste Management

They say what goes around comes around. And in the case of UMass Lowell, the more this university puts into its composting and recycling effort, the more benefits it reaps.

The first university in the Northeast to adopt turning food scraps into compost for campus landscaping, the UML emerged as a national leader in sustainability in higher education.

According to UMass Lowell News, the university has been named “Innovator of the Year” by Casella Waste Systems, its regional solid waste contractor. The award honors the university for the innovative and creative ways it conserves resources and diverts landfill waste.

Director of Sustainability Ruairi O’Mahony accepted the honor on behalf of the university at the first-ever (virtual) Casella Sustainability Leadership Awards. The award, he said, is a direct result of Chancellor Jacquie Moloney’s commitment to climate neutrality and sustainability. “We are continuously encouraged to be innovative and to try new ideas,” O’Mahony said. “The fact that we are recognized for that is really reflective of the culture that exists at our university.”

Composting food scraps apart, UML is the first college campus in the region to install Grind2Energy food waste recycling systems.

This system converts food scraps into a slurry that is treated by anaerobic bacteria. The process produces methane which is converted into renewable energy, while the remaining organic material can be used as fertilizer.

To make a more sustainable world, many more organizations need to follow the UML example. 

Nikola uses his background in electrical engineering to break down complex sustainability topics for GreenCitizen's readers. He is a firm believer in environmental conservation, which he practices daily through recycling and home-grown food. He enjoys hiking, engaging in white-water sports, and collecting pocket knives.

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