Urban Food Lab: Composting Plastic in Aquaponics

New York University, New York, NY

New York University, New York, NY team photo
The video below introduces our team members and outlines the goals, process and current progress of our composting tests. Additionally, we discuss the broader implications of our findings thus far and how they could be further explored in another round of research.

Our team sprouts from a vertical aquaponic farming initiative in our university's makerspace. We are a combination of PhD Candidates and undergraduate students from NYU and Mount Sinai from different departments guided by Dr. Andrea Silverman.

Acklin, Joshua (Ph.D. Student Biomedical Sciences)
Cruite, Emma
Gowayed, Omar (Ph.D. Materials Chemistry)
Kim, Brandon (Politics)
Nevins, Michelle (Environmental Chemistry)
Paredes, Ingrid
Sookchan, Savannah
White, Gianna

EPA P3 Video Presentation

Poster (click to open a full size image): 
Urban Food Lab: Composting Plastic in Aquaponics poster

Using various methods, including mealworms/superworms and genetically modified bacteria, the project evaluates how well plastic (PS and PE) can be composted in urban agriculture. To determine method feasibility and use, an assortment of tests will be run to assess the toxicitiy levels in the composted plastic using FTIR and germination studies in kale plants. In preparation for practical scaling, everything has been done in the context of an aquaponic farm, with the final aim being to minimize food and plastic waste at an indsutrial level in the broader, modern food system.