We were initially inspired to pursue this project due to the increasing problem of climate change, and the role that food waste plays in that. The interviews with local business owners, government employees and experts in our areas of interest validated the need for a system that educated people on waste diversion as well as improved the composting process.
Local Buisness Perspective
Early in the conception of this project we called a few local businesses to simply ask if they composted. It was not a surprise to our team when only one out of four businesses we contacted composted. Later, we interviewed a local restaurant owner and she revealed to us that not only does she feel her restaurant doesn't produce a lot of food waste, but her biggest concern was the “ick-factor”.
Local Government Perspective
In addition to the local businesses, another one of the first stakeholders we contacted were two employees of the City of Lethbridge Waste and Recycling Center. One gave us insight on current food waste disposal methods and attitudes in Lethbridge as well as in other cities. While the other provided feedback on our project’s biological system, helping to shape the modelling aspect around increasing thermostability. This was very valuable in that it gave our team much needed context surrounding our project.
We contacted three experts to aid us in various aspects of our projects. Two being experts on composting, and the other on pectin degrading enzymes. Kathleen Sheppard shared tips about composting and outreach, and helped to distribute our survey to the public. Dr. Wade Abbott shared his extensive knowledge about pectin degrading enzymes, and provided feedback in order to improve our biological system. Finally, Dr. Chirstina Seidel expressed current challenges to composting, and gave advice on who we should market our project towards.
The perspectives of local restaurant owner Anni Huang, coupled with the insight from Dr. Seidel, indicated that our project would be much more needed in an industrial setting. This completely shifted the original proposed market of our system; moving from the initial home-backyard composter to the industrial sector. When working to shift our project to an industrial setting we thought about factors, such as how we could scale up our project. This is one of the reasons why we chose to deliver the system in the form of a cell lysate. Not only does this delivery make it cheaper but it enables us to make large amounts of our enzymes faster and more efficiently.
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