They literally turned the mayonnaise into power.
Michigan State University recently had a serious problem with a huge batch of mayonnaise, which is something not many facilities have and isn’t something that they necessarily want to. Freezing temperatures had caused the dining halls’ supply of mayonnaise, which amounted to 1,250 gallons, to freeze and then thaw out, making it inedible.
Though the college typically donates food products that aren’t right for them to a local food bank, the spoilt nature of the mayo and excessive amount prevented them from doing so. Since disposing of the mayo was out of the question as well, given the many pounds it amounted to, the university found itself with a rare problem.
Thankfully, the school has sustainability officers that work specifically with culinary services to help curb the waste that leaves the dining halls and they knew just what to do with the mayonnaise. The officers came up with the perfect solution; the university has an anaerobic digester that powers farm areas and buildings on the south side of the campus and has microorganisms in it that feed off of foods with high sugar and fat content.
“The decision was actually fairly easy,” said MSU Culinary Services Sustainability Officer Cole Gude. “It was a perfect situation to turn what could have been a catastrophe into something positive for the university.”
The task itself was not as easy, as it turns out, because it involved the people from food services and the sustainability officers dumping each individual container (of which there were 500) into a dumpster, dumping that matter into the digester, and then washing off the dumpster and all the containers for recycling. It made a huge mess, took 8 hours, and the team of 12 was wearing dress clothes, but they said that in the end it was all worth it because it felt good to do something useful and inventive for the university.
“It felt really good though,” Gude said. “It’s one of those things of sustainability where you have this horrible situation and, because of the technology we have and the driven people we have at MSU, we have the ability to turn it into something good.”
Sustainability practices can often go a long way to reduce the waste seen in landfills and to create alternative forms of electricity that don’t involve traditional uses of coal, which is horrible for the environment.