Recycling Services
Composting Process

Waste is generated and put into compost bins

People on campus generate food scraps, paper towels, and other compostable items and dispose in compost bins. Yard waste is brought to Cherry Crossing research Center by landscaping services.

Bins are placed on dining hall docks

Clemson dining employees bring compost bins out to the dining hall docks. Clemson custodians collect the paper towels from the compost bins and place them in consolidation bins for pick up.

Our team collects bins pic

Our team collects bins

Our compost team picks up the compost bins on route in a stake-side truck with a lift gate.

Our team collects bins pic

Bins are brought back to Cherry Crossing and dumped into pile

Our team brings the compost bins back to Cherry Crossing Research Center. Our team dumps the compost bins into the newest processing pile.

Clean and line bins pic

Clean and line bins

Our team cleans the empty bins and puts new compostable liners in them.

Add carbon source and mix

The team adds wood chips to the food scraps pile and mixes it together. From here, the homogenous mixture is processed through one of the various composting methods on site.

Piles decompose

The pile contents are broken down by microbes through aerobic digestion. The piles are turned to oxygenate the material and allow for continued decomposition.

Piles are cured and sifted

The fully decomposed piles are cured and then sifted using a trommel screen to remove large particles and contamination.

Finished compost is used for soil amendment

Finished compost is used by landscaping around campus and sold for personal use.

Composting Methods

Clemson University utilizes several composting methods

Turned Static Pile pic

Cherry’s main method of composting, turn wind row, takes 8 weeks to produce compost, and can be done in very large quantities. All of the food waste generated on campus is converted into compost using this method. Rows are between 4 and 8 feet tall, and 14 to 16 feet wide. This allows for maintaining high temperatures, and oxygen to flow to the core through manual turning of the rows with the use of skid steers.

Aerated static pile pic

ASP’s, or Aerated Static Piles, is an additional method of composting that Cherry Crossing utilizes. Unlike Turn- Wind-Row, ASP’s optimally take 21 days to compost. Although, ASP’s are limited by resources and equipment, which involves a higher cost and assistance. The difference between ASP and the traditional turn-windrow is the organic waste is oriented into a pile, rather than rows, and sit on a concrete slab, with small holes in them that contain aeration piping so air can flow from the bottom of the pile to the top. ASP’s do not work well for animal byproducts.

In-vessel composting pic

In-vessel composting is where organic material is fed into a large barrel shaped container, where conditions including temperature, moisture and aeration can be closely monitored and controlled. Then, the in-vessel will spin very slowly, around one rotation per hour, to aerate the waste. Cherry’s in-vessel can compost “x” amount at a time, and typically takes 3 days to finish. In-vessel composting can also be utilized year-round, and produces very little odor and leakage. Although this is the quickest method of composting, it is also the most limited due to space, equipment, and resources. Our in-vessel can only contain so much compost and obtaining more equipment is costly.

 Vermicomposting pic

Vermicomposting produces compost by utilizing the decomposition processes of worms and insect larvae. At Cherry, we use Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL) to consume a variety of items that can be difficult to compost such as breads, dairy products, and meat scraps. Neither the larvae nor the adults are considered pests but instead essential decomposers that are rich in protein, can be used as animal feed, or even pressed for oil. Current research is being done at Cherry to determine BSFL’s ability to separate contaminated materials such as plastic and glass from food waste. BSFL only consume organic matter and burrow in such a way that contaminates are pushed to the top of their piles.

Our Composting Facility

Cherry Crossing Research Center is our compost facility.

Cherry Crossing Research Center pic

Cherry Crossing is located at:

2182 W Queen St

Clemson, SC 29631

Hours: 6am-2pm (Monday-Friday)


If you’d like to schedule a tour of Cherry Crossing, please contact us. We’d love to show you around!