Chester the Digester better for environment


Kaleia Lawrence / Clarion

Chester the Digester and machines like it save tons of waste from landfills.

Kaleia Lawrence, Editor in Chief

For the past three years, Madison College has harbored an impressive device. When it was first installed two years ago, it was the first one in the United States.  Found behind the culinary department’s door lives Chester the Digester, an award winning biodiogesting machine.  

Chester the Digester is a machine that takes scraps of food and turns it into material. The material can be used for planting and gardening. It is then bagged and sold. Profits from the sales go towards Big Dog’s fund for the food pantry. Last year, Chester was awarded the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Recycling Award for Innovation.  

Scraps are gathered across the culinary program, cafeteria and bakery. They’re then placed into Chester to be composted. Pretty much any food can go into the machine, with a few expectations like turkey bones and fat. Even some other materials can go in, like cardboard.  

In order to compost, bacteria is added to the machine. The bacteria is made at a factory in Madison, shipped to China to be embedded into sawdust, then sent back to Madison College to be used.  

By using this machine, tons of waste is kept from landfills. It’s estimated to save 25 to 26 tons per year. 

“We watch our water. We watch our energy, wind and solar on the roof, you know, we do passive solar and all that kind of stuff and throwing this in the landfill is really unethical,” said John Johnson, culinary arts instructor.  

Even though Chester was the first of its kind in the United States, this kind of device is very common across Europe. Since news of Chester has spread, Johnson has spoken with companies in all 50 states and even Canada.