Julianna Keeling

Julianna Keeling

Speaker | Washington and Lee University, Terravive LLC

Glen Allen, VA | julskeeling7@gmail.com

USCC Member

Juliana Keeling is a fourth year university student at Washington and Lee University. Juliana studied Chemistry and Environmental Studies at Washington and Lee and helped to build the only on-site industrial composting system at a university in Virginia. Based on her background in chemistry and composting on campus, she started Terravive, a sustainable packaging business, that provides home compostable packaging and tableware solutions to non-profits like W&L and other businesses.

Session Name: College and University Composting 1: The Small(er) School Experience

Session Time: Thursday, January 30, 8:30 to 10:00 AM

Presentation Title: Industrial Composting on a University Campus

Presentation Description: Washington and Lee University started food waste collection efforts in 2002 when a Biology professor and a small group of students received a grant to purchase an EarthTub to create compost for the Campus Garden. In 2014, when the university created the Office of Sustainability, the new Director of Sustainability took on project management of the compost program and the student-led, student-run Compost Crew. At the time, the Compost Crew consisted of 5 students who had evening shifts gathering food waste from one or two dining operations. Since then, the composting operations have grown, and in 2016, we completed a two-bin inline static aerated pile system with closed loop leachate control and an external storage area. The Compost Crew now has 17 students – large enough to have pairs of students do runs every day of the week. We now collect food waste from all seven dining operations on campus, as well as multiple off-campus fraternity houses, and run zero waste procedures for large events on campus. We also have a part-time composting operations assistant.

As of August 2018, Washington and Lee University implemented fully compostable packaging solutions across the dining facilities on campus. The compostable tableware in use on campus is polylactic acid (PLA). That academic year, we collected 56 tons of food waste and compostables and processed it for the Campus Garden. Prior to that, our highest amount was 17 tons. W&L is now outgrowing its 2-bin system and using a system of windrows to complete the decomposition process. Over the course of our composting efforts, we have diverted just shy of 150 tons of food waste and compostables from the landfill. As one of the only (and possibly the only) university in Virginia that built and implemented an industrial composting system, this presentation can help to inform and inspire readers at other schools and/or businesses.

Co-Author: Kim Hodge, PhD, Washington and Lee University, hodgek@wlu.edu