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Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions

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Talk – Talking Trash: Creating a Circular Food System in Maine

March 4, 2019 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

| Free

Talking TrashSpeakers: Food Waste Reduction Student Team

This work highlights the benefits of approaching food waste management from an interdisciplinary perspective. While there have been many efforts to combat wasted food, the problem is complex and solutions have remained elusive. This research group brings together different disciplines (nursing, anthropology, economics, biomedical and civil engineering) across educational stages (undergraduate and graduate students and faculty) in order to approach the issue of wasted food from multiple perspectives. Adopting an interdisciplinary perspective, this team is able to explore important social, economic, and environmental factors associated with wasted food. This talk will present an overview of the team’s interdisciplinary research approach, as well as case studies exploring opportunities for improved food waste management through composting, anaerobic digestion, alternate biodegradable packaging, and data collection of food waste management practices of hospitals. These cases highlight some opportunities for Maine to recycle nutrients into agricultural soils, creating a more circular food system. This interdisciplinary team acts as a model for future groups interested in finding long term answers to problems that require complex understanding and analysis.

This project was sponsored by the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, UMaine’s Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research Collaborative, and the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions.


Brie Berry: Brie is a PhD student in the Anthropology & Environmental Policy program at the University of Maine, where she studies systems of production, consumption, and disposal. Brie has an M.S. in Urban Affairs from CUNY Hunter College, and a B.A. in Anthropology from The George Washington University. In addition to her academic work, Brie served as a Peace Corps Volunteer (Mali, 2006-2008) and worked for many years in urban sustainability, including projects in energy efficiency, urban forest ecology, environmental education, and waste reduction.

Skyler Horton: Skyler is currently a second year Human Dimensions of Climate Change major with a minor in Outdoor Leadership. Food waste has always been a topic of interest for him and this project is a great intersection between the human dimensions and climate change aspects of his major. It allows him to work with stakeholders and identify barriers to the recycling of food waste in the hopes of creating a circular food system.

Andrew Flynn: Andrew is currently a senior in the Civil & Environmental Engineering department with a concentration in Environmental Engineering. The idea of reusing and recovering food waste has always been of interest to him. Growing up, his parents always had a working compost pile at his house; teaching him the values of having a circular food system. This research experience has given him the tools to explore a specific solution related to the recovery of food scraps, and has given him a better understanding on the current food waste management system in Maine.

Hannah Nadeau: Hannah is currently a sophomore Nursing student who is looking to become a certified nurse midwife. She never expected to be involved in environmental issues or research but has found a love for the topic in the state of Maine. She has been involved with the Mitchell Center and research surrounding the topic of food waste from hospitals for one year. She hopes to continue this research and hopefully create change within her state. Hannah is also part of the UMaine club soccer team and enjoys all winter activities such as skiing an ice skating in her free time.

Shayla Rose Kleisinger: Shayla is a undergraduate student hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, who is currently in her senior year of Biomedical Engineering. She is also receiving minors in Microbiology and Nanotechnology. Shayla is involved with research surrounding biodegradable food packaging made from cellulose materials, along with work in collaboration with NASA on sustaining plant-growth systems in micro-satellites. She is active in the UMaine community, as she is a member of the Division 1 Swimming and Diving team, teaches swim lessons through Black-Bear Swim School, is the Vice President of UMaine Active Minds Chapter, and is the PR and Historian for the All Maine Women Honor Society. Pursuing a wide variety of interests allows her to stay connected to the world and helps drive her passion for improving the lives of individuals around her.

Taylor Patterson: Taylor is a fourth year Ecology and Environmental Science major, with a minor in Economics, from Hampden, ME. Sustainability issues have sparked her interest sense childhood. She began researching food waste her sophomore year through an internship position with the Maine Resource Recovery Association (MRRA), and has been searching for solutions ever sense. As a Diana Davis Scholar, Taylor helped implement a community-based composting program in Washington, Maine. Outside of research, she is a member of UMaine Women’s Rugby Team where she’s learned to be a leader on and off the field.



March 4, 2019
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Event Category:


107 Norman Smith Hall
Mitchell Center - UMaine
Orono, ME 04469 United States
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Mitchell Center
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