Algonquin College Students’ Association eliminates restaurant food waste with the LFC biodigester

April 10, 2024

Algonquin College is a publicly funded college in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada which caters to 19,000 students. The Wolves Den is one of Algonquin College Students’ Association’s two full service restaurants, which provides excellent high quality house made food and offers a full service bar. It operates on weekdays from 11am-6pm, serving up to 180 seats. 

In 2016, the Students’ Association implemented a renewal project aimed at enhancing the campus to meet present and future demands.

This renovation eventually concluded with the creation of the Jack Doyle Athletics and Recreation Centre, and included the restaurant as a part of the plan to accommodate increased in-house dining and catering needs. As part of their forward-thinking approach, the team also integrated state-of-the-art technology, including the LFC biodigester, to efficiently manage food waste.

The LFC-200 biodigester, installed in 2022, marked a pivotal moment in the Students’ Associations’ sustainability journey. This innovative technology proved to be a game-changer in managing food waste efficiently and reducing the college’s carbon footprint. In 2023 alone, the biodigester processed 16,883 lb of food waste, diverting more than 32 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere. To put this into perspective, it’s equivalent to offsetting carbon emissions from consuming 3,601 gallons of gasoline, according to the EPA.

Wellness and Sustainability at Algonquin College

Algonquin College is guided by the nine goals across three pillars of sustainability: social, economic and environmental (S-E-E) in the Sustainable Algonquin Framework.

They make every effort to reduce food waste in their own kitchens, any remaining waste gets entered into the composting program and the LFC biodigester. The hospitality department of the SA constantly aims to improve the sustainability of Algonquin College’s food system and reduce food waste. 

To meet these growing sustainable needs, Russell Hendrix Foodservice Equipment installed the LFC biodigester in the Wolves Den as part of their renovations. 

Chef’s Testimonial: Nathan Buschmann

Nathan Buschmann, the chef and manager of culinary operations for the Student’s Association, is a staunch advocate for the LFC biodigester. 

“I absolutely love the LFC biodigester and it’s really made a difference in the kitchen,” said Nathan.

When he joined in 2016-2017, staff were throwing all their organic waste into garbage cans where it would rot until it was picked up by an external waste management company. Now, thanks to the biodigester, organic waste is virtually eliminated, streamlining kitchen operations and saving both time and money.

As head chef, Nathan has integrated the biodigester seamlessly into his daily routine, appreciating its role as a staple piece of kitchen equipment. Its efficiency and effectiveness have not only contributed to a more sustainable operation but have also enhanced the overall dining experience at both restaurants.

Nathan has also found that the LFC biodigester offers unparalleled versatility, making it an invaluable asset for SA’s culinary operations throughout the year. Its adaptability allows it to seamlessly transition between slow and busy seasons, ensuring efficient waste management regardless of restaurant traffic. 

Moreover, the biodigester’s unique ability to enter passive mode during periods of inactivity maximizes energy efficiency and reduces operational costs during quieter times. This feature proves particularly useful during school off-seasons and summer breaks when the volume of waste may not be sufficient to justify continuous active operation. By intelligently adjusting its functionality to match the ebb and flow of waste generation, the LFC biodigester remains an indispensable tool in Algonquin College’s sustainability efforts year-round.

The Algonquin Students’ Associations’ journey toward sustainability and innovation exemplifies its commitment to creating a better future for its students, staff, and the planet. Through strategic initiatives like the integration of the LFC biodigester, the college continues to set new standards for sustainability in higher education and beyond. The Wolves Den restaurant stands as a shining example of what can be achieved when dedication to sustainability meets cutting-edge technology.