Chapman University reduces food waste and conserves water with the LFC biodigester

February 1, 2024

ORANGE, CA — Chapman University is a private research university located in the suburbia Orange, California. It encompasses eleven schools and colleges across a 90 acre campus and caters to around 10,000 students.

There is one main dining hall and several smaller cafes across campus. Chapman previously used EnviroPure’s digester but after multiple issues, sought to replace that machine. 

In March 2022, Jenny Kaufman joined Chapman University as the Energy Conservation and Sustainability Manager. Faced with California’s multi-year drought, water conservation became a top priority for Kaufman across all new projects. It was here where she first encountered the EnviroPure food digester. It was a bulky, water intensive food disposal system that constantly faced maintenance issues. 

Despite the slew of problems plaguing the EnviroPure machine, Jenny found the technology’s core concept to be a match for the university’s food waste needs. An onsite food waste solution would enable Chapman University to address the unreliability of the city’s trash pick up service and provide a centralized solution for both pre and post-consumer food waste. Rather than invest in continually repairing the EnviroPure food digester, Chapman University made the executive decision to spend the maintenance money on a new machine. 

Chapman University discovered Power Knot through a Google search. Despite initial hesitations due to limited education specific testimonials, one of Chapman’s plumbers recommended the LFC biodigester and piqued Jenny’s interest. She got in touch with David Annis, Director of Dining Services at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, who provided glowing recommendations and testimonials on why UNL had implemented multiple units of the LFC biodigester across their campus. The LFC biodigester is an automatic stainless steel machine that could digest food waste with minimal impact to electricity and water. 

Randall Dining Commons is Chapman’s main dining cafeteria located in the Sandhu Conference and Residence Hall. It is open from 7:30am to 8pm and offers continuous dining options throughout the day, along with breakfast, lunch, and dinner service adhering to typical hours. Chapman University opted for the LFC-500 biodigester model, a suitable fit for their dining hall kitchen. In April 2023, the LFC biodigester was strategically installed in the university’s dining hall kitchen, efficiently handling food waste and seamlessly integrating into their operations. 

With a major focus on reducing water usage, Chapman University has successfully achieved this goal with the adoption of Power Knot’s technology.

Their overarching sustainability goals include diverting as much food waste as possible, thereby aligning with broader environmental initiatives. The university sought to leverage grey water capabilities for future landscaping use.

Power Knot’s LFC biodigester stood out as an ideal solution, aligning with Chapman University’s goals by providing a versatile waste management option.

Beyond meeting sustainability and utility conservation needs at Chapman University, the LFC biodigester has created opportunities to introduce awareness and education of sustainable missives to students.

“The LFC biodigester is such a good tool to divert food waste from the landfill and create a teaching opportunity for students, staff, and faculty,” said Jenny Kaufman. “It’s a good entry point for talking about food waste and preventing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Jenny uses the reports from the LFC biodigester to share the impact of food waste on the environment and how decisions made on an individual level, such as deciding how much food to put on your plate, will scale to a global effect.

Chapman University envisions expanding their sustainable practices and aims to inspire other educational institutions by sharing their success with the LFC biodigester. Their journey with the food waste digester showcases the transformative impact of sustainable waste management solutions, providing not only operational efficiency but also serving as an educational tool for fostering environmental consciousness within the university community.