Akron aims to set sustainability standard for zoos with compost system

Akron aims to set sustainability standard for zoos with compost system

Akron Zoo unveiled a composting machine named "Big Hanna," designed to help it achieve its zero waste goal. Photo courtesy of Akron Zoo

Meet Big Hanna.

The Akron (Ohio) Zoo is the first zoo in the world to implement a composting system that will divert 47 tons of organic waste away from landfills.

The zoo has unveiled the machine dubbed "Big Hanna," designed to help the zoo achieve its zero waste goal, reports Cleveland.com.

The Ohio EPA awarded the zoo a $160,000 recycling and development grant for the machine, which the zoo will match at $81,000.

Summit ReWorks provided $20,000 toward the sustainably designed building the machine occupies. Keep Akron Beautifully and Let's Grow Akron will purchase compost from the zoo.

The zoo has had an organic waste diversion program since 2011, but was hindered by restrictions on composting primate and big cat stool. With Big Hanna, the zoo will bring its diversion percentage to the high 90s, zoo President and CEO Doug Piekarz said.

Zero waste is one of the zoo's nine major goals Piekarz dubbed BHAG for "big hairy audacious goals."

Swedish-made Big Hanna can accept all organic waste – meat, wood, proteins and animal stool – which runs through what act like steel stomachs, and produces compost in five to six weeks. The composter processes about 24 pounds of waste per day.

The building housing Big Hanna features a skylight for natural daylight and a passive solar wall to help heat the building year-round and reduce carbon emissions.


Topics: Building Owners and Managers, Sports and Recreation, Sustainable Communities, Wastewater Management / Wastewater Treatment

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