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Dartmouth to manage composting facility

Published May 3, 2004; Category: ADMINISTRATION

Food waste from college and hospital will still be processed at the Lebanon operation

In mid-June Dartmouth will take over management of the Dartmouth/Hanover Compost Facility (DHCF) from New England Organics as part of a new arrangement that the partners in the enterprise have agreed will streamline its operations and better serve the public interest and the parties involved.

Compost facility
The compost facility in Lebanon starts with organic matter and breaks it down in piles inside the building. The temperature can rise to 150 degrees Farenheit inside the piles, and the air is "scrubbed," or deodorized, by filtering through the field of wood chips in the foreground. The pipes emerging at the field's surface help control the air flow.  (photo courtesy of Facilities Operations and Management)

The DHCF was developed in 1998 through a public/private partnership formed by Dartmouth, DSM Environmental of Ascutney, Vt., the Town of Hanover, and Casella Waste Systems, Inc. of Rutland, Vt. New England Organics (NEO), a division of Casella specializing in organic waste management, has managed the facility since 2000.

The DHCF now handles food waste from Dartmouth and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC), and biosolids from the Town of Hanover.

Under the new program, all waste streams now handled by the facility will continue to be recycled and composted - but not specifically at the DHCF. Only the food waste from Dartmouth and DHMC (approximately 350 tons per year) will be composted at the facility. Biosolids from the town will be composted by NEO's Hawk Ridge Compost Facility in Unity, Maine. The Town will not pay any more than its current rate, and will receive compost in return for use by the town or by residents.

 "DHCF - also known as the ROT facility (for Resource Optimization Technologies) - has been very successful in its operations to date, especially under the management of New England Organics," said John P. Gratiot, Associate Vice President for Facilities Operations and Management at Dartmouth. "NEO has improved both the safety and operating efficiency of the facility. Finished compost quality produced by the operation also improved, and the product has been in high demand since changes were implemented by NEO."

Vice President of New England Organics James W. Ecker said, "The partners in the venture have jointly agreed that a management change is necessary for reasons including the fact that the operation was not designed to handle all of the material directed to it, and some material must be diverted at times to other management options. In addition, with a maximum capacity of only 800 tons per year, the small scale of the facility made it economically infeasible for a private company to manage."

DHMC has been an active participant in the program, and will continue to send its food waste to the composting operation. This benefits the town because previously the food waste was ground and sent to the sewer, ending up at the Hanover Waste Water Treatment Plant. Diverting the food waste to the compost facility decreases the loading on the treatment plant.

With the biosolids stream from the town going to the Hawk Ridge facility in Maine, the College and DHMC can continue to expand their food waste programs; thus continuing the collection and recycling programs they have developed.

After the transfer of management responsibilities, NEO will provide consulting services to Dartmouth to ensure the experience gained at the operation is properly transferred to the new operators.

Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 12/17/08