AMS hopes to control smell coming from new composter

The AMS has been trying to curb the smell coming from their new composter over the last few weeks.

After installing a sustainable composter in the basement of the SUB as part of their sustainability initiative in November, the AMS started using it to compost scraps of food in January. But not long after the installation, many of the nearby clubs and businesses started complaining about the smell coming from the composting room.

"For me, It was a bit unpleasant. I can smell it strongly from the basement hallway at the SUB," said Jordan Mackinnon, who works at the UBC Bike Kitchen. "We started noticing the smell since 3-4 months ago and for now, the problem hasn’t been solved yet. The smell was not interrupting for me here, but it just seems so unacceptable since it’s been ongoing for months."

The composter is made of stainless steel, processes large loads of food waste and delivers clean compost.

According to AMS Designer Michael Kingsmill, the composter was designed for use in the interior of building. It is fully computerized, and a technician from Montreal checks the humidity level, adjusts the cycle and the odourizer and ensures that the drum is rotating continuously. The composter also comes with two odourizers -- one on the vessel itself and one in the surrounding room. The vent from the vessel carries exhaust from the composter to the exterior.

Kingsmill also said that the smell is due to a broken ventilation part and difficulties getting it to work smoothly during the installation process. He expects the composter to only start working properly in the next few months, as it'll take some time for the technician to make the machine fully operational.

"It takes a number of things to happen for the compositing operate properly," said Kingsmill. "The technician told us it was about four to six months before the composter is going to settle down. We’re heading into the last period right now since it was installed and finalized around the beginning of January. When the composter operates properly, it’ll be virtually odour-free."

Still, Mackinnon hopes that the composter will be fixed soon.

"I think what they should really do to solve this ongoing problem as quickly as possible, probably to reroute the ventilation of the composter or change the location of the machine,” said Mackinnon.

Kingsmill said that a technician will be coming in next week to temporarily control the smell until the machine is made to be fully operational over the next few months.

"We will have it all fixed next week, we have [the] Vertal main technical advisor from Montreal," said Kingsmill. "Unfortunately he had other business to do, soon he’ll be here and go in with the tools, get some adjusting,” said Kingsmill.