Summer ’22 Updates: DEP grant, Youth Inclusion tour & Operation status

Dear ComPOSTer community,

The Dog Days of Summer are officially here. We hope everyone is staying cool and safe during this heat wave. It’s been awhile since the last post, but this summer has been a productive, exciting, and fun one at the S.C.R.A.P. Lab. Check out our latest news below:

NJDEP Research Grant!

We are excited to share that Princeton University is a grant recipient of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP)’s FY21 Recycling Enhancement Award (REA) Research Grant Program! Starting in 2023, we will be partnering with the New Jersey Composting Council, professor Dr. Xinning Zhang, and our other campus partners to study and test innovate new methods for using, collecting, and recycling compostable plastic products.

Specific objectives include:

1. Assessment of how well several types of compostable plastic products break down in the in-vessel system and subsequent piles or windrows (i.e. can they completely disintegrate/become unrecognizable?)

2. Evaluation of the effectiveness of using a chipper-shredder machine to reduce material size as a pre-processing tactic to make the composting process more efficient

3. Understanding the impact that the addition of compostable plastic products has on composting emissions, microbial communities, and compost nutrient density (both with and without pre-processing)

4. . Implementation and evaluation of infrastructure and messaging strategies to increase diversion and recycling rates of the compostable plastics and wasted food.

NJDEP Youth Inclusion Initiative

The Office of Sustainability recently hosted a tour for youth as part of an intensive NJDEP program to introduce young professionals across New Jersey to careers in environmental justice and sustainability. At the first stop at the S.C.R.A.P. Lab, we had a great time interacting with the youth, demonstrating the lifter, passing around compost, and overall sparking their enthusiasm around composting! Two more groups will visit later this summer.

Gina Talt explaining how the auger transports shredded food and wood into the composting system
Group photo!

Operations Restart Update

It’s been a long road due to the pandemic and our facility relocation, but after a 2+ year hiatus, we are happy to announce that the S.C.R.A.P. Lab is now up and running and will begin to accept wasted food from Princeton’s retail dining venues at the start of the Fall 2022 semester! We hope you will continue to follow us in our next composting chapter.

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