A Multi-Trophic Sustainable Food Production System Integrating Aquaponics and Bio-Waste Recycling

EPA Grant Number: SU836140
Title: A Multi-Trophic Sustainable Food Production System Integrating Aquaponics and Bio-Waste Recycling
Investigators: Burton, Dudley J
Institution: California State University - Sacramento
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2016
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2015) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Awards , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Sustainability , P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals


Our project proposes to develop and investigate a sustainable closed-loop food production system that uses organic wastes diverted from landfills as a resource to produce high quality protein feed to raise fish and plants for human consumption. In this system earthworms, insects and other decomposers will be farmed on the organic wastes to produce high value protein feed and nutrient rich compost. The protein feed will then be used to raise fish, and the fish will provide nutrients to grow edible plants in an aquaponics system; the combination of aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (soilless plant culture).


Our proposal is to develop a pilot system on the California State University, Sacramento campus to test and demonstrate the feasibility of converting organic wastes generated on campus into high quality fish and vegetables. We will measure the energy efficiency of converting organic wastes into protein feed, then the conversion of protein feed into fish and vegetables. The project addresses PEOPLE by educating the campus and local communities about issues of waste resources, recycling, food production, and sustainability. The project addresses PROSPERITY by showing how conversion of waste resources can generate products, jobs, and sustainable economic development. The project addresses the PLANET by showing how reducing wastes can reduce pollution, save energy, and protect wild resources.

Expected Results:

The primary result of the project will be to demonstrate the feasibility of an integrated, closed-loop system using recycled organic wastes diverted from landfills to produce high quality fish and vegetables for human consumption. The project will measure the quantities of wastes diverted, the conversion efficiency to protein feed and quantities of food generated. The project will also provide educational and outreach opportunities for the campus and the general public in the principles of waste management and recovery, sustainable food systems, and the benefits and opportunities of urban food production. For students, it will provide experiential learning including basic and applied research applying sustainable principles and technologies.

Supplemental Keywords:

waste recycling, sustainable food production, organic wastes, sustainable technology, decomposers, aquaponics, closed-loop systems

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report