Lethbridge High School iGEM Team

The small-scale composting project

Project Summary & Updates

We are the Lethbridge High School iGEM team for 2020. Our team operates out of the University of Lethbridge SynBridge Maker Space and our members come together from different high schools around the city. Despite coming from different schools, we all have one thing in common: a passion for science! We are all looking forward to this season and cannot wait to begin working on our project.

April 7, 2020 - Our Project Idea Summary

Understanding the mechanisms of small-scale composting and potential enzymatic improvements using synthetic biology

As the population of the earth continues to grow, more garbage is ending up in landfills, with a large portion of the items occupying the landfill space being compostable food waste. When food waste enters landfills, there are a variety of environmental consequences. This is due to the copious amounts of greenhouse gases emitted during the production of our food. Additionally, food shipping utilizes cardboard and plastic for shipping, which harms our environment significantly.

Although food waste disposal services are available, they often release methane and are not economically productive. Furthermore, composting facilities do assist in combating the issue of food waste but are oftentimes not readily available. While some households do have access to home composting, this can be an inefficient method of reducing food waste and may attract pests.

Therefore, we propose a system that employs an engineered biological catalyst that breaks down food waste in a small-scale closed container system, suitable for keeping animals out, decreasing the need for space in landfills and ensuring unsafe chemicals do not enter the environment. Our aim is to use readily available household materials to design an efficient small-scale composting unit, while increasing the speed of decomposition using an engineered pectin-degradation enzyme catalyst.

This project will not only address a local problem within the Lethbridge community, where no city-wide composting system exists, but can also be expanded to other communities where these services are not currently available.

March 2020 Update

Our team has been hard at work for the past month coming up with and finalizing our project idea for this season.

We wanted to have a project that could be applied locally and were able to do that with our composting catalyst idea. We are now in the process of researching our project and writing our paper for BioTreks, as well as contacting any experts or knowledgeable people who may be of assistance when we are creating our catalyst.

We are excited to see where our project will go and are excited for what this season will bring!