Gina Talt

Gina Talt

Gina Talt

Speaker | Princeton Universtiy

Princeton, NJ |

USCC Member

Gina Talt, Food Systems Project Specialist with Princeton University’s Office of Sustainability, manages project-based operational and research efforts with the objective of developing best practices for food systems sustainability for Princeton University and other institutions.  She currently oversees the Sustainable Composting Research at Princeton (S.C.R.A.P.) Lab, an investigation into organics recycling and soil revitalization through small-scale, in-vessel composting. Gina is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the composting system, compiling and analyzing data to inform a feasibility study, leading communication and engagement efforts around the project, and developing and supporting related coursework and research opportunities for staff, faculty, and students under the Campus as Lab program. Gina also assists University faculty on a project studying the environmental and economic impacts of different farming practices at local farms. Gina graduated from Princeton University in 2015 with a major in economics and a certificate in environmental studies.

Session Name: College and University Composting 2: Lessons from the Large(r) Campus

Session Time: Thursday, January 30, 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM

Presentation Title: Using On-Campus Food Recovery and Composting to Advance Institutional Operations, Engagement, and Research Around Food system sustainability

Presentation Description: Nearly 25 years ago, 32 educators and other professionals with environmental expertise meeting in Essex, MA suggested, “Higher education institutions bear a profound, moral responsibility to increase the awareness, knowledge, skills, and values needed to create a just and sustainable future.” Clearly, higher education has attempted to meet this responsibility in areas such as facilities management and academic programming; however, one issue where there are still enormous opportunities for sustainability leadership by higher education is the on-campus recovery and recycling of uneaten food. This form of sustainable materials management and the educational and research opportunities associated with it remain in an embryonic state on the 4,400+ campuses in the United States with less than 2% of campuses having an established on-campus food recovery and composting program. This presentation is a case study of such a program at Princeton University. It will highlight how on-site composting has been recognized as an important food recycling strategy to meet institutional zero-waste goals, while revitalizing local soils and engaging the campus community in sustainability-related action and research. Through this case study, attendees will learn about the steps toward implementing an on-campus food recovery and composting project at an institution, the operational processes and equipment involved, and the various ways that the resulting compost may be used and applied to support healthy and resilient campus landscapes. Also discussed will be to-date research findings studying how different feedstock types, ratios, aeration, and system parameters impact composting microbiology and chemistry.