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Akron Zoo unveils first aerobic composter to be used at any zoo in world

Posted by Elena Bell Monday, April 23, 2018 12:03:00 PM

The Akron Zoo debuted the first aerobic composter, Big Hanna, to be used at any zoo or aquarium in the world on Monday, April 23. 

The unit, built in Sweden, is a collaboration with ReWorks, the Ohio EPA and the Akron Zoo. The purpose is to advance the zoo’s aspiration to be a zero waste facility. 

“It represents a great example of the sustainable practices happening in our community and is a clear demonstration of our conservation mission in action,” said Doug Piekarz, president & CEO of the Akron Zoo.

The finished compost will be used internally at the Akron Zoo for soil amendment and through partnership by groups such as Keep Akron Beautiful and Let’s Grow Akron for landscaping and other civic beautification initiatives.  

“Methane is a gas that is up to 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. So composting, to eliminate organic waste going to the landfills, reduces climate change conditions in the environment and therefore helps not only our community but wildlife globally,” said Christopher Norman, director of capital projects and sustainability at the Akron Zoo.

The Big Hanna was invented by Torsten Hultin, a Swedish sociologist, in 1991. Torsten wanted to create awareness about how our society uses and misuse its resources, and how dependent we are on our local and global environment. Raw organic material is placed in a hopper at one end and it goes through a tumbler inside a big stainless steel containment unit. After four to six weeks, finished compost is produced on the other side of the unit. It is an entirely natural process.