Iron Mike Conference Center (IMCC)is one of at least two facilities on Fort Bragg that are now using the Power Knot Liquid Food Composter. This composter is a commercial biodigester that uses microorganisms to decompose waste food and release it as grey water into the sewage.
The Directorate of Public Works purchased a few and suggested they be placed in several of their facilities, but the Iron Mike Conference Center was one of the only places that could accommodate it due to its size, said Michelle Hagwood, business operations officer, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
Most of the kitchens are rather small, she said, and the composter is three feet by five feet.
Since it was installed in the IMCC kitchen, it has made the lives easier for the kitchen staff in terms of workload and time.
“It’s helped us a lot with the weight and having to pick up a lot of heavier bags with a lot of food,” said Chef Rob Gibson.
Before the composter, the kitchen staff had to carry heavy garbage bags almost a block away to a compactor that is higher than a normal trash can and required them to lift the bags up high, said Gibson.
“This thing right here can be a life-saver as far as time,” he said. Instead of emptying the trash can, hauling the bags a block away and washing their hands, they can just dump the food in the composter and let it do the rest.
They don’t have to do much but make sure the temperature is correct and put the food in, being careful not to include certain items, such as large bones, shells, gum and lemongrass.
Within 24 hours of enzymes being added, it processes and breaks down the food which then travels through a pipe to the sewer.
It doesn’t even smell like a regular trash can, Gibson shared.
In addition to helping the staff at IMCC, the composter also helps the environment.
“It’s a green alternative because it prevents such waste food from going to the landfill where it will degrade into methane gas which is also harmful to the ozone layer,” said Gibson.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “I think everybody should have one.”