The Role of Ecological Sanitation as a Climate Change Solution – Feb 9, 2020 – Dr. Rebecca Ryals

WEBINAR: The Role of Ecological Sanitation as a Climate Change Solution

Speaker: Dr. Rebecca Ryals, University of California, Merced

When: Tuesday, 9 February, 2021 | 12:30 – 1:30 PM
Registration: Free, please register here

Presented as part of Sustainable, Resilient and Equitable Re-Start, an online, bi-weekly seminar series focused on how we can work towards more sustainable, resilient, and equitable restart following the pandemic. All events in the series can be seen here.

Circular agriculture-sanitation systems capture and safely treat human waste and return the embodied organic matter and nutrients in excreta to agricultural soils. Closing this “poop loop” can contribute to global climate goals and improve the resiliency of agroecosystems through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and promotion of soil carbon sequestration.

In this seminar, Rebecca Ryals will share research conducted in collaboration with the non-profit organization Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL), who provides container-based sanitation (CBS) services that produce a composted soil amendment. Experimental trials were used to quantify the first greenhouse gas emissions factors from the thermophilic composting of human waste, finding that scaling up CBS could mitigate 13-44% of the sanitation sector methane emissions.

When applied to agricultural soils, feces-derived compost has further climate benefits through carbon sequestration, reductions in fertilizer use, and enhanced crop yields. This work shows that closing the poop loop is an underused and effective climate solution.

About the presenter

Rebecca Ryals is an Assistant Professor of Agroecology at the University of California, Merced. Her research program focuses on ecosystem-based climate solutions, particularly in agricultural and sanitation contexts. Her work investigates controls on and quantification of carbon storage and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the impacts of management practices on climate change mitigation. A major research theme is the capture, transformation, and beneficial reuse of organic wastes as resources to rebuild soil carbon and contribute to a more productive and just food system.


The Department of Mechanical Engineering co-presents this speaker series as part of the UBC Sustainability Initiative, in partnership with UVic Civil Engineering, and supported by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.