Land O' Lakes property Rosebud Continuum becomes 'recycling utopia'

On a Land O' Lakes property off of Hale Road, Dr. T.H. Culhane can be seen pulling up on a solar-powered golf cart, unloading his used plastics and shoving them into a plastic shredder. He then heats up those plastic bits and molds them into plates and bowls. 

Sounds unusual, but that's life at Rosebud Continuum. 

The land is owned by Maryann Bishop and managed, in part, by the USF Patel College of Sustainability. It serves as a large sustainability classroom. 

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"I always say it’s like an onion. You just peel back one layer at a time, and every time you do, you realize there is something else there you didn’t know," described Bishop. 

They're teaching anyone who will listen about what's possible in the world of sustainability today. Like grinding food waste into unappealing sludge and then turning it into clean gas. 

It's used for cooking, heating water or running generators on the property. It's done through a large biodigester. It's meant for communities, but home units exist and are commonplace in many countries around the world. 

"The HomeBiogas system is appropriate for about a bucket of food waste a day for a family of four to six people," said Dr. Culhane. 

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He said one can cost about $1,000.

Then, there's the glass crushing machine at Rosebud. It turns bottles into sand that could be used for landscaping, construction or even playing in. Managers at the facility said many countries put the machine in grocery stores and schools. 

Back at the plastic grinder, materials too contaminated to recycle are used in concrete. The community is working on a turtle sculpture on the property that contains six years’ worth of plastic and glass inside. 

"We see it working for paving stones, for driveways, for anything that’s non-loadbearing," said Dr. Culhane.

He would like to see more plastic shredders utilized in school and office cafeterias. You can buy one for around $2,000. 

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"All it takes is a little bit of investment for that takeoff to sustainability and then its self-perpetuating, because you have no garbage," said Dr. Culhane. 

He said Rosebud is full of common-sense ideas that could make a difference for generations to come.

Rosebud Continuum is open for tours and field trips. If you're interested in finding our more, just go to their website.