Liverpool Guild of Students (University of Liverpool) Case Study

Setting the scene

Sector: Education
Equipment: A700 Rocket Composter and Dehydra Dewaterer

The backstory

The Liverpool Guild of Students is the University of Liverpool’s students’ union (SU), and it’s a key hub for those studying at the institution.

Sustainability is a key focus for the university – it’s always looking to bolster its green credentials and adopt and promote environmental best practice. The Guild’s sub brand, Green Guild, plays a huge part in this too, as its aim is to promote sustainability both in and outside of the university. It’s also recognised by the National Union of Students as a leader in continued innovation in sustainability, thanks to its bee-keeping and vegetable growing practices.

The challenge

The main driver behind seeking an on-site solution was that the site’s food waste was previously not segregated – meaning it was grouped with general waste and, as a result, collected for incineration.

This was not only bad for the environment – with harmful gases being emitted during the incineration process – but the costs for collection and disposal were also incredibly high and refuse collectors limited the weight to 80kgs per 1100 wheeled bin. This meant that the heavyweight food wastes needed to be addressed

Therefore, the university and Green Guild wanted a solution that would help it close the food waste loop – which accounted for 10% of overall waste figures – and implement a process that would have a lasting impact on the campus.

And the investment had to omit the expensive off-site disposal fees, reduce overall carbon footprint, and also generate a valuable compost resource to be used for growing produce in the campus’s rooftop gardens and cultivation plots. Finally, while this sounds like a lot of boxes to tick, it also had to be space-saving, as there wasn’t much spare room on site for anything too large.

Dewatered food wastes
The recipe for making compost
A700 Rocket Composter Liverpool
Product image Dehydra Supercompact

The solution

After carrying out research and looking into the various options available, The Guild set up a meeting with fellow city-centre education institution, the University of Salford – as they’d heard about their in-vessel composting model – so they could get a real-time view of how it worked.

After seeing the commercial-scale composting column in operation – and given The Guild was already ‘green-fingered’, having a growing plot on campus – it seemed like a natural fit.

This therefore saw the site invest in an A700 Rocket Composter and Dehydra Dewaterer.

Installed in the kitchens, the dewatering element of the process enables the SU to reduce its volume of food waste by up to 80% and its weight by 50%. And the result? This means that it could purchase a smaller in-vessel composting solution, that would fit within the space constraints of the campus.

Regarding how the process works, The Guild has separate food waste caddies in the campus kitchens, whose content is emptied into the dewatering equipment by kitchen staff. During this stage, the moisture content and weight within the waste are significantly reduced and the resulting feedstock is fed into the Rocket Composter.

As a result of its innovative and sustainable practice, the site has not only diverted its food waste away from incineration, but it’s also been able to reduce the number of general waste bins on campus – replacing them with dry mixed recycling alternatives.

The Guild’s ‘green thinking’ hasn’t gone unnoticed throughout the wider sector either. It welcomes visitors from around the world to come and witness its ‘urban farming’ model in operation, and has also been shortlisted as a finalist in the ‘Food and Healthy Eating’ category of The Green Gown Awards.
Without a doubt, this is a project we’re very proud to be a part of!

“We’ve seen some fantastic results from composting over the past five years. It’s increased the site’s recycling rates, as well as attracted businesses from across the world to come and witness our urban farming model in action.”

David Wheatley, Green Guild Manager.