CINCINNATI (April 22, 2021) – The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, aka The Greenest Zoo in America®, is working hard to be Net Zero by 2025. It is already off the energy grid on most sunny days and has saved billions of gallons of water with its stormwater management program, but figuring out organic waste management for a facility that generates 2 million pounds of waste a year has been a challenge. This week, with the installation of an aerobic bio-digester, the Zoo initiates its Facilities Organic Waste Recycling (FLOWR) program, embarking on a journey to turn its waste into garden gold.
“Organic waste accounts for 80% of our total waste,” said Cincinnati Zoo’s vice president of facilities and sustainability, Mark Fisher. “That is a lot of zoo doo! The digester will convert food waste and poo from elephants, rhinos, zebras, and even Fiona, into a beautiful fertilizer that can then be used to breathe new life into our botanical garden, community gardens, and your garden.”
The Zoo is using this small aerobic bio-digester to test its waste management plan and to get the internal logistics figured out before installing a much larger unit in 2023 as part of its new elephant facility.
“Everything about Elephant Trek will be big,” said Fisher. “I’m excited to build an amazing home for elephants and just as excited to be making it the right way, which means taking sustainability into consideration every step of the way.”
Some of the fertilizer that will be generated by the bio-digester will be sold to the public for home use and some will be used in the new Urban Learning Garden that the Zoo, in collaboration with Cincinnati Children’s, P&G, & Reds Community Fund, is helping to get going at Rockdale Academy.
“The Zoo calls Avondale home, and because we know we can help, we will – period,” said Fisher. “We love to contribute with sweat, talent, and heart, but our mission is at the core of every project. Serving Community & Conserving Nature are two of the fundamental missions that define the Rockdale project.”
The Zoo has planted trees and installed solar panels on the project site and its education department is working with CPS to develop a curriculum for the students to go along with the garden.
This project could not have come to life without the help of neighborhood and city-wide partners. The 2021 Community Makeover, which will happen at the end of July, is the foundation for launching the Rockdale Urban Learning Garden. Click here to learn more about the Urban Learning Garden.