CSU composting machine, OSCAR, to get upgrade

OSCAR, CSU’s in-house composting machine, is fully funded for getting an expansion.

Funds just shy of $300,000 were approved to expand the OSCAR program last April 2016 via the University Facility Fee Advisory Board, according to an article that ran in the Collegian.


Tim Broderick, senior sustainability coordinator for housing and dining services, estimates that the expansion will be operational by February 2017.

Broderick believes with the expansion of OCSAR, composting could be expanded to include all residence halls on campus. A pilot compost program is ongoing in Pinon Hall to gauge how much waste is being produced.

The hope is, if expanded to all residence halls, “bulk” waste – i.e., the to-go containers from the dining halls – could be composted. Currently, the material composted is 93 percent of pre-consumer food waste coming out of campus dining halls. This includes the satellite bins located in each of the dining centers.

OSCAR program began in April of 2011 and is nearing the end of its life cycle, had the expansion not passed. The university is “definitely running OSCAR for now,” Broderick said. It currently costs $34,000 a year to operate OSCAR.

The approved expansion will add a windrow composting system to the preexisting OSCAR vessel. A windrow compost system, which uses large piles of compost in a horseshoe shape, will create a much larger composting capacity for the University.

A total of 2,000 lbs. daily of pre-consumer food waste is diverted from the land fill in Fort Collins. A third of that goes to OSCAR, while the remaining two-thirds is diverted to the Food Waste Energy program in the city of Fort Collins. Since the OSCAR program began, 1 million pounds of food waste has been diverted.

An operating plan and design drawings, which will have details such as storm water management, will be submitted shortly, said Susanne Cordery, the environmental engineer for facilities management. More details were needed by the state of Colorado because the windrow system will not operate as “in-vessel”. This means that composting will not occurs within a structure. OSCAR with the windrow system expansion will be regulated as a class IV composting operation.

Cordery said the same plans will be submitted to the board of county commissioners. CSU is not required to present the plans to the county or acquire a permit from them.

Broderick said the hope is the expansion of OSCAR can bring more zero-waste event options to campus and campus organizations, particularly within the Lory Student Center and the new stadium.

Broderick believes a program like the OSCAR expansion at CSU is truly sustainable.