Waste Not, Want Not

Check out four facilities that have mastered the art of composting–to great greening <em>and</em> beautifying effect!
Osmosis has used compost since the 1980s!

La Costa Resort and Spa

lacosta.com, Carlsbad, CA
In January 2010, La Costa further committed to its historically green philosophy by installing two industrial composting machines, the eCorrect Food Waste Decomposition System, to turn kitchen scraps (including those from the Spa Café) into a nutrient-rich compost that’s suitable for use on the property’s adjacent golf course and many plant and flower beds. “With the exception of bones and a few other items, just about any food waste can be used in the compost machine,” says Hans Wiegand, La Costa’s executive chef.

The system dehydrates the food waste, producing a humus-rich soil within approximately 18 hours. The waste is heated to 180 degrees in a chamber—without help from enzymes, by-product, fresh water or venting—resulting in zero sewer or landfill impact. The unit also uses very little energy and includes an odor-control system that keeps the kitchen free of unpleasant smells. Plus, water extracted from the machine is likewise rich in nutrients, and is used to fertilize indoor and outdoor plants.
Each day, La Costa’s grounds team fertilizes the property, including the spa’s new herb garden, with approximately 40 pounds of homemade compost. As a result, about 180,000 pounds of food by-products will be kept out of landfills this year!

Sam Bumgarner, director of purchasing at La Costa, admits that there were challenges: Determining just the right mix of products to result in optimal-quality compost, was one. The property avoids adding raw meats (they’re too oily) and too much bread, which turns into sugar and doesn’t process properly. Training staff to properly separate the materials took time as well.

Bumgarner adds that even once a spa owner finds a system that works for her operation, she should continue to research composting options. “Conduct an extensive due diligence process,” he says, “because technology is continually advancing, and there may be better solutions available.”