2024-05-22 14:58News

Cultivating Growth: Putting Food Waste to Work with UVM Students

University of Vermont Ecological Design Students

At Casella, we see food scraps as a resource to be recovered, and we’re proud to be capturing over 400,000 tons of food waste from the disposal stream every year. Recovering more food requires innovation, so we love to link up with our college and university customers to test out fresh ideas.

Our team recently joined University of Vermont Associate Professor Eric Roy’s Advanced Ecological Design Class to explore our newest solution for home food waste - FoodCycler® by Casella. Under Dr. Roy’s direction, the students conducted a semester-long study of ways to use the FoodCycler output (called Foodilizer®) in-home uses such as gardens. They designed a study that carefully measured the impacts of Foodilizer on plant biomass and seed germination.

“This project provided students with an opportunity to help fill important knowledge gaps for a novel food waste recycling technology. Through hands-on experimentation, the students gained skills in nutrient cycling, experimental design, statistics, and sustainability that will be valuable as they pursue careers in the environmental field,” said Professor Roy. “Working with Casella and other stakeholders during the course creates a more exciting learning environment and real-world impact.”

Foodilizer is the nutrient-rich byproduct from the FoodCycler, a countertop appliance that grinds and dries food scraps. We partnered with food waste experts from Food Cycle Science to bring this unique tool to our customers in Vermont.

“By now, we all know the value of reducing food waste and cycling that material back to the soil. But shifting home kitchen habits is always going to take time, outreach, and innovation. When we described the FoodCycler technology to the students at UVM, they understood immediately and designed a nice study to help us understand the way the Foodilizer product might be used effectively in home gardens,” said Casella Vice President of Sustainability, Abbie Webb. “It’s always a great thing when we can collaborate with local educators and engage students to explore real-world problems and contribute to real-world solutions.”

Roy’s class had the opportunity to present their findings to Casella’s Sustainable Growth team members for consideration and further application.

“I enjoyed learning about the FoodCycler as a novel method of dealing with household food waste and encouraging organics diversion. The Foodilizer material was more pleasant to work with during our experiment - both in smell and texture - than organic waste in other forms,” said UVM senior Laura O’Brien. “It’s exciting that our initial results are promising for Foodilizer as a soil amendment in home gardens!”

UVM Project


About Casella Waste Systems, Inc.

Casella Waste Systems, Inc., headquartered in Rutland, Vermont, is one of the largest recyclers and most experienced fully integrated resource management companies in the Eastern United States. Founded in 1975 as a single truck collection service, Casella has grown its operations to provide solid waste collection and disposal, transfer, recycling, and organics services to more than one million residential, commercial, municipal, institutional, and industrial customers and provides professional resource management services to over 10,000 customer locations in more than 40 states.


Jeff Weld
Vice President of Communications
Jeff Weld