Pollution Prevention Week – Sept. 15-21

EPA logo with

This year marks the 24th anniversary of the federal Pollution Prevention Act, which declares: “pollution should be prevented or reduced at the source whenever feasible.” This week is Pollution Prevention (P2) Week where the EPA features achievements in making pollution prevention a cornerstone of sustainability. Find out more information and how you can participate by visiting the EPA’s P2 Week website.

PCBs: Public Workshop Takes Fresh Look at Familiar Menace


The University of Illinois will present a free public workshop on PCBs, the synthetic molecule that is a poster child for a wonderful technical innovation that ends up being an environmental scourge (remember ice-nine?).

PCBs are still around and still must be destroyed or securely stored. Register for the 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17 workshop “PCBs and Their Impact on Illinois” here. You can choose to attend the live event at University of Illinois at Chicago, via live feed at ISTC’s conference room in Champaign, or on your own desktop.

U of I Library has come up with a brand new lib guide in time for this event. This executive summary of all things PCB is available on the library’s website.




Tips for Greening Your Major

This post was co-authored by Laura Barnes, Elizabeth Luber, and Lauren Murphy.


These days we hear a lot about “Green” energy or “Sustainable” products, but what do “Green” and “Sustainable” really mean?  How do these words affect your life and your major?


According to the US Environmental Protection Agency,

“Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.”


This diagram about sustainable development, designed by Johann Dréo in 2006, might clear things up.  The three pillars of sustainability – social, environment, and economic, sometimes called people, planet, profit – must be balanced in order for something to be entirely sustainable.




What Does This Have To Do With Your Major? Continue reading

PCBs Not Going to Clinton, But A Solution Still Needed

Village of Summit, a Chicago suburb

The Village of Summit, a Chicago suburb, is one of the Illinois communities in need of a permanent solution to PCB storage.

Now that the U.S. and Illinois Environmental Protection Agencies have rejected proposals for permanent PCB storage at the Clinton Landfill, the problem has not gone away.


Just what is to be done with the once common industrial chemical turned persistent hazard?


On Sept. 17, the University of Illinois is holding a day-long workshop to hear from academic and industry experts to bring the latest science to the policy table.


Register for the workshop being held at the U of I at Chicago campus by visiting: http://www.istc.illinois.edu/info/pcbworkshop.cfm. There are also plans to offer a live feed over the Internet.

New ‘Lessons Learned’ Offered on Sustainability Successes

casestudyboxISTC has posted recent case studies or fact sheets on its website developed by its Technical Assistance Group. They are also available on IDEALS, the University of Illinois’ Institutional repository. They illustrate victories by leading companies and organizations in E3 (Economy, Energy, and Environment), Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award Winners, and zero waste. The organizations featured are: American Standard Circuits, Inc.; Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District; J.L. Clark; The Label Printers Lewis & Clark Community College; The City of Urbana; and ISTC’s Champaign headquarters.

Midwest Biochar Conference Approaches

There is just one more week to register for the Second Midwest Biochar Conference. The Illinois Biochar Group, with the help of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center and the U.S. Department of Agriculture as co-organizers, will present this look at the latest science in biochar Aug. 8 at Champaign’s Hilton Garden Inn. Register by Monday, July 28.

Springfield Newspaper Features People, Planet, Profit Approach at ISTC

ILTimesA lengthy article in the Springfield’s Illinois Times yesterday examined the practical, progressive approach to sustainable action  at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. It is called the “Triple Bottom Line,” describing an approach to balance the interests of the planet, its people and a healthy economy — or, people, planet profits.


In the article, reporter Patrick Yeagle quotes ISTC Director Kevin O’Brien saying “We don’t want Illinois businesses to prioritize profit at the expense of the planet; that’s Texas,” O’Brien said. “Likewise, we don’t want them to forgo profit in the name of saving the planet; that’s California.”


The Times reviews some of the current research and technical assistance efforts of the Center including: making a variety of liquid fuels from plastics; supercapacitors from biochar; low-energy desalinization technology; combatting emerging pollutants; detecting water infrastructure leaks, and; shrinking waste streams to landfills.


To read the full article visit the Time’s website at http://illinoistimes.com/article-14158-science-to-solve-tomorrow%25E2%2580%2599s-problems.html


Tiny Plastic Pollutants Banned in Illinois

MicrobeadsWhy did Illinois pull the plug on the use of plastic microbeads as exfoliants? ISTC’s B.K. Sharma and Nancy Holm offer insights on the trouble with microbeads in the “A Minute With…” feature on the U of I website.

ISTC has worked on beneficial recycling of plastic waste and the effects of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the environment.

The Illinois General Assembly passed the ban, signed by Gov. Pat Quinn on Sunday, June 8, prohibiting the manufacture (by 2018) and the sale (by 2019) of microbeads in personal care products in the state.

Middle Schoolers Celebrate Clean Power on Earth Day

WindJeffersonOn Earth Day, April 22, Jefferson Middle School hosted a ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of their 3.5 kW h wind turbine project.

The clean energy project was funded by the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, ISTC, and high efficiency light bulb sales by the school’s Green Team.

The little turbine spun energetically during the morning ceremony, producing an estimated three percent of the school’s energy requirements. Members of the Green Team gathered around a commemorative plaque while a green ribbon was ceremonially cut.

Science teacher Jeff Freymuth (right) explained that the idea for collecting wind power came from a visit to a school in Springfield. “They had a wind turbine, why can’t we?” he recalled. The installation will be used in clean power course work for both the middle school and Centennial High next door, he said.

The 13.4 foot diameter rotor will produce an estimated 5550-11,300 kW h directly into the school’s power grid. Also pictured (left) is Jefferson Middle School Principal Angelica Franklin.

Kids Invited to ‘Reuse and Rediscover’ at Ill. State Museum

Families with children aged 3-10 will find a fun day of art and science at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield. “Reuse and Rediscover” is a free event from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. Saturday, April 26. Everyday items that clog our garbage cans will be repurposed as a bottle cap art mural. Packing peanuts will be studied for their eco-friendliness. A Recycle Relay will help children understand what other items are recyclable or not.   The Illinois State Museum is at 502 S. Spring Street, Springfield, IL 62706. Free parking!