Cracking the Case: Bowdoin Dining Achieves 100% Compostable Lobster Bake

Story posted September 14, 2009

The annual lobster bake that followed Convocation September 2, 2009, was a major feat. More than 1,800 guests were served some 1,256 lobsters, 78 gallons of Maine fish chowder and 1,280 ears of corn on the cob. Perhaps even more impressive — 100 percent of the trash and food waste from the event was composted.

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"We had to make a few event adjustments to make this work," says Associate Director of Dining Service Ken Cardone, who credits Jon Wiley, Dining Service's purchasing manager, with doing a great deal of research to find someone willing to compost lobster bake waste.

"We used compostable paper/biodegradable plastic products. We eliminated plastic lobster bibs and used bulk beverages to eliminate bottles. We also did away with all individual packages of condiments such as butter, dressing and sour cream, and replaced foil-packaged wet naps with hand sanitizing stations and offered additional napkins."

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Dining staff manned each trash barrel location to make sure material wasn't contaminated with non-compostable waste
and had to sift through food waste to remove things like the rubber bands on lobster claws.

The load, 10 cubic yards of waste, was taken to be
composted in Lisbon, Maine, at Ricker Farm, one of Dining Service's many local producers.

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