Case Study

University of New Hampshire

Somat Supports UNH Zero Waste Goal with Close-Coupled Pulpers

unh-2Founded in 1866, the University of New Hampshire is a vibrant land-, sea- and space-grant university that is ranked among the top-tier research institutions nationally. The University’s two campuses in Durham and Manchester serve an annual enrollment of approximately 14,500 students mentored by 1,000 full- and part-time faculty members.

Created in 1997, the UNH Office of Sustainability is the oldest endowed sustainability program in higher education in the United States. In May 2006, UNH was also the first institution of higher education in the nation to receive ENERGY STAR® ratings for residence halls. It now has eight U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR buildings and another in the process of certification. UNH mandates that all buildings meet LEED-Silver or equivalent requirements.

The Waste Reduction Challenge

As part of its comprehensive and committed sustainability efforts, the University wanted to reduce the amount of compostable trash and food waste collected annually and compost as much as possible.

In keeping with the University’s Climate Action Plan, it wants to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050 on the road to carbon neutrality by 2100. A recycling and food-waste composting program was needed as part of the university’s sustainability effort to help reduce trash volume, waste-removal costs, and greenhouse gas emissions to reach the 2100 goal.

The Somat Solution

The University utilized Somat close-coupled pulpers/hydra-extractor systems. Comprised of a pulper directly connected to a hydra-extractor, these stand-alone foodservice waste units provide a convenient means to reduce waste volume at the collection source where facility constraints do not permit more centralized food-waste collection. Three Somat pulper/hydra-extractor systems were put into service in each dining hall.

Each meal served in the dining halls generates approximately half a pound of compostable food waste, and all of it is reclaimed for composting. This waste is scraped into a water-filled trough, and the slurry is sent through highly energy-efficient waste-reduction pulpers equipped with dewatering systems that separate the solid waste and return the slurry to the trough to be recycled. Macerated and partially dewatered pulp is output directly into reusable plastic trash containers. Student interns collect this dewatered pulp from the UNH campus and compostable trash from local restaurants daily, and then they take it to a reclamation facility for composting. It is then used to produce a rich soil amendment for the University’s organic farming program.

Somat Close-Coupled Waste
Pulping System

The Results/Environmental Impact

  • The dewatering function virtually eliminated the odor common in waterlogged trash and also improved sanitation. Moreover, the dewatered pulp is not attractive to wild animals or vermin.
  • Volume and weight of trash was reduced 80 percent to 90 percent, making it lighter and less labor intensive to transport to the compost facility. This waste reduction reduced energy and labor costs for collection and transportation while reducing transport vehicle emissions.
  • Pulping and dewatering compostable trash speeds its transformation into rich compost to as little as a month. Water extracted by the pulper/hydra-extraction system is returned to the trough and recycled as opposed to being washed down the drain into sanitation systems. This process meant significant water savings for the university.
  • Lower trash volume decreased the amount of greenhouse gas emissions due to less methane and carbon dioxide released in landfills.
Pulped and dewatered material


  • Waste reduction of compostable trash is a key component in the UNH sustainability program. Along with extensive recycling, composting trash is helping the university reach its goal of achieving a zero carbon footprint by 2100.
  • The university’s composting program collects more than 92 tons of pre- and post-consumer food waste annually and contributes to an overall diversion rate of 90 percent.
  • In addition to numerous Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certifications from the U.S. Green Building Council and ENERGY STAR certifications from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, UNH has received many accolades and awards for its commitment to sustainability.


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