In September 2018, the Office of Sustainability launched an on-site food scraps composting demonstration project to support the sustainability goals and research and education missions of Princeton University.
Called the Sustainable Composting Research at Princeton (S.C.R.A.P.) Lab, the demonstration project is an investigation into utilizing small-scale composting technology to reduce waste and revitalize soils by converting campus food scraps into a nutrient-rich soil amendment for campus grounds. Additionally, the project supports Campus as Lab inquiries around food scraps conversion which is a topic of growing interest that can benefit from more applied testing and performance assessment while federal and state targets increasingly call for drastic cuts in wasted food.
The System & Process:
The S.C.R.A.P. Lab features a FOR Solutions Model 1000 aerobic, in-vessel rotary drum composting system that uses a programmed rotation and aeration process to accelerate the decomposition of food scraps into finished compost in only five days.
Every week, the University sends campus food scraps from Frist Campus Center, campus cafes, the Coffee Club, and a growing list of academic and residential building partners to the S.C.R.A.P. Lab. The food scraps are loaded into the system along with a bulking agent/carbon source (currently kiln-dried wood shavings) to produce nutrient-rich compost. This compost provides the University with a usable soil amendment for re-use on campus landscapes to enhance soil health and reduce reliance on chemical inputs.
The S.C.R.A.P. Lab represents one way in which students and staff from across campus can partner on a daily basis to reduce waste and promote a circular economy on campus through a “table to soil” approach. Specifically, the S.C.R.A.P. Lab is one strategy that can simultaneously move the campus toward two of its sustainability action areas: reducing waste and expanding sustainable purchasing, and cultivating healthy and resilient habitats.