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Axing Grenfell Campus composter will save university $90K

One of the largest industrial composters in N.L. stops working Sept. 2

Grenfell Campus axing industrial composter 1:12

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A cost saving of $90,000 is at the heart of Memorial University's recent decision to shut down its industrial composter, one of the largest in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"The students, faculty, staff — they want to have minimal impact as much as possible on their people. So the composter was selected as a source of a cost saving measure that would have a minimal impact on job loss, for example," said Rayna Luther, the university's director of facilities management.

"It's certainly disappointing. It was a very difficult situation for senior administration to make. It was not made very lightly."

'We're going to suspend it for now, with the hopes that there will be a future if we can find a partnership.' - Rayna Luther

Grenfell Campus' $90,000 composter budget mainly paid the salaries of the two positions associated with running and maintaining the facility. Luther said both people affected will continue to work on campus in different roles.

The Corner Brook campus of Memorial University has been running a tight financial ship, shutting down its pool and losing funds for an on-campus daycare in the wake of the province's austere spring budget.

Rayna Luther

Rayna Luther says the composter won't be dismantled, in the hopes it could one day work again. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Continuing to compost?

Luther said the university is looking for other, cheaper ways to save food waste and scrap paper from the landfill.

"We are hopeful that we will find a solution, and we are looking to other organizations or municipalities to partner with us, to come up with a solution to be able to run this again in the future," she said.

Grenfell Campus composter

The composter was one of the largest in Newfoundland and Labrador. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Neither the City of Corner Brook nor Western Regional Waste Management runs composting programs.

Luther said one option may to purchase backyard compost bins and hand them out to staff, faculty and students to take home.

In the meantime, while the industrial composter will be mothballed as of Sept. 2, Luther said it will not be dismantled.

"We're going to keep it on campus, maintain it, it's housed from the elements. We're going to suspend it for now, with the hopes that there will be a future if we can find a partnership."

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