Green Lunchroom Challenge Webinar, Sept. 30, Features Innovative School Projects

Join us on Friday, September 30, 2016 for a Green Lunchroom Challenge Webinar, “School Gardening and Composting at Salem High School (MA).” The webinar will be broadcast from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM Central, and will be recorded and posted to the Challenge web site for later viewing. Register online at


Learn about innovative on-site gardening and composting efforts at Salem High School (Salem, MA). These projects not only provide fresh produce for school meals, but also engaging experiential learning opportunities for students. Our presenters will be Graeme Marcoux, Salem High School science teacher, and Deborah Jeffers, Food Services Director. This school not only has traditional garden plots, but also grows produce in a modified, climate controlled shipping container from Freight Farms. This atypical approach to on-site gardening allows the school to generate more fresh produce than they would with their traditional plots alone, and can allow growing during any season. This CBS Boston feature on the school’s efforts provides more information, and may help you formulate questions you’d like to ask during the webinar:


Coordinated by ISTC with funding from US EPA Region 5, the Green Lunchroom Challenge is a voluntary pledge program for schools to improve the sustainability of their food service operations. By registering, participants are accepting the challenge to reduce and prevent food waste in their facilities. The Challenge involves suggested activities that range in complexity and commitment, to allow participants to best suit their situation, budget and available community resources. Participants are not required to complete activities, but with each activity that is completed successfully, they earn points and can be recognized as having achieved different levels of accomplishment. Learn more, and register your school or district, at


Green Lunchroom Challenge logo

P2 Resources You Can Use

In the not-to-distant past, it was difficult to locate pollution prevention and sustainability information. Those days are gone. Now, we go to Google and we’re inundated. In this post, I’ll point you toward some resources that you may have forgotten about when you’re trying to locate information to solve a problem. Whether you’re an organization that wants to start a sustainability program or a seasoned pollution prevention technical assistance provider, there’s something on this list that will help you do your job better.

Topic Hubs and LibGuides

Topic hubs and LibGuides are similar. Both are curated collections of resources on specific topics that also include explanatory information. The only difference is the delivery platform. GLRPPR converted its Topic Hubs to LibGuides several years ago. Guides of particular interest to the P2 community include:

The Pollution Prevention 101 LibGuide is particularly useful to those new to the P2 field. It includes links to essential resources and training that will help get you up to speed quickly.

GLRPPR Sector Resources

GLRPPR’s sector resources are curated collections of documents organized by sector or topic. Each resource includes a link and a brief description. Sector resources includes links to fact sheets, manuals, videos, journal articles, case studies, and software tools. Browse by sector/topic or search by keyword using Google site search.

GLRPPR Webinar Archive

GLRPPR hosts two to three webinars per year. Recordings of these webinars are archived on our web site and on our YouTube channel.

GLRPPR Help Desk

If you have a sustainability question or problem you’re trying to solve, the GLRPPR Help Desk is the place to visit. You get one free hour of literature/web searching and will receive a response within a week. Note that we won’t often give absolute answers. Instead, we’ll give you references and let your draw your own conclusions based on the available information. We also won’t answer homework questions.

E-Mail Discussion Lists and GLRPPR E-mail Newsletter

E-mail discussion lists are a great way to tap the hive mind of your pollution prevention colleagues. GLRPPR members are automatically subscribed to the Roundtable regional e-mail discussion list. P2Tech is an international discussion list for pollution prevention and sustainability professionals. To subscribe to either list, contact Laura Barnes.

GLRPPR’s e-mail newsletter keeps you up-to-date on sustainability news, resources, events, and funding opportunities. Subscribe here.

P2 Impact

P2 Impact is a collaboration between GreenBiz and the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange. Each month, P2 practitioners write about topics related to pollution prevention and sustainability. The goal of the column is to tell the P2 story to GreenBiz’s business audience. The archives of the column are available here. If you would like to write a column, contact Laura Barnes.

P2 InfoHouse

P2 InfoHouse, maintained by the Pollution Prevention Information Center (P2RIC), is a searchable online collection of more than 50,000 pollution prevention (P2) related publications, fact sheets, case studies and technical reports. It includes a vast number of legacy pollution prevention documents that were originally released in hard copy. The collection is searchable by keyword.

Zero Waste Network Success Story Database

The Zero Waste Network’s Success Story Database contains case studies that are examples of how real facilities saved money, reduced waste, and/or lowered their regulatory burden through innovative P2 practices. The studies are often written in a companies own words, with minimal editing.

U.S. EPA Pollution Prevention Tools and Calculators

U.S. EPA has links to general P2 information; P2 tools for chemical processes and purchasing; and calculators to measure the environmental and economic outcomes of P2 activities.

Using public data to identify pollution prevention opportunities

Government agencies produce a tremendous number of publicly available data sets. In this P2 Week blog post, I’ll highlight some resources that will help you get started with a data driven approach to identifying P2 opportunities.


Webinar: Utilizing Public Data to Identify Technical Assistance Targets

The U.S. government has a wealth of data available about the environmental and economic impact of manufacturers. This webinar, hosted by ESRC,  demonstrates how to use the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory, Greenhouse Gas, and Enforcement and Compliance Online (ECHO) databases and the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns database to identify industrial sectors and facilities that can benefit from pollution prevention technical assistance.


Information that can be easily obtained and utilized from these data sources is key for any technical assistance provider when developing a strategy to target technical assistance. Real-world examples located in regions 3 and 4 are provided.


Presentation slides, resources mentioned during the webinar, and a time-coded index for the video below are available on the ESRC web site.


How a competitor’s data can help your company cut pollution

This P2 Impact column by U.S. EPA’s Kara Koehrn explains how manufacturers can reduce pollution by using public data, chiefly Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) pollution prevention data, to learn from others in their industry.


Module 4: Identify and Target Facilities to Perform Hazardous Substances P2 Assessments

In 2013, U.S. EPA Region 5 (in collaboration with EPA headquarters) developed a 4-part training module to assist technical assistance programs (TAPs) in finding hazardous material reduction opportunities. This module demonstrates how the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program used TRI data to target their P2 technical assistance efforts. It also provides an overview of what types of information are included in TRI emissions and P2 data.


Report: Strategy for using the US EPA Toxics Release Inventory to Identify Opportunities for Diffusion of Innovative Methods for Hazardous Waste and Toxic Emission Reduction

This report shows how P2 technical assistance providers can use TRI P2 data to identify manufacturing facilities that have implemented toxics source reduction methods and facilitate the diffusion of those methods to other facilities that may be facing barriers that block adoption of P2 practices.


Report: The Economic and Environmental Impact of Great Lakes Manufacturing: Snapshot of Emissions, Pollution Prevention Practices, and Economic Impact Using Public Data

The manufacturing sector is an important economic engine within the Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. While complying with applicable laws and regulations, these facilities also have an environmental impact on the region.


In this study, the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) used publicly available environmental data to establish a regional baseline for industrial chemical use and emissions; pollution prevention (P2) techniques; greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; and economic impact data for selected industry sectors in U.S. EPA Region 5. The report includes analyses of data from U.S. EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), the Greenhouse Gas Emissions database on Envirofacts, and the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns database on American FactFinder.


See also GLRPPR’s paper Spotlight on U.S. EPA Region 5’s Food Manufacturing and Processing Industry for a more focused sector-based analysis.

DOE Sparks Science Learning with New Newsletter

STEM Spark newsletter header reads: S T E M Spark U.S. Department of Energy Energy Education News - August 2016 This Issue: Wind Energy - Next Issue: Solar Energy. header has green background with white lettering except for STEM and the word spark has gold dashes in a ray coming off the top of the letter k in the word Spark.


DOE has produced a new resource to help cultivate the next generation of science and environmental experts. The first in a new science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education monthly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is all about wind energy.  Topics include:

  • Wind Energy Overview
  • How Does a Wind Turbine Work?
  • Learn How to Build a Wind Turbine Model
  • Offshore Wind Buoy Tour of “Open Hatch” Vessel
  • And much more about wind energy!

Regular sections in the newsletter include:

  • Student contests through the DOE
  • Classroom activities on the newsletter topic
  • Career resources
  • Upcoming DOE events

The newsletter is free to subscribe to and only requires a valid email address. This newsletter is made possible by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).


The Prairie Research Institute (PRI) at the University of Illinois, of which ISTC is a division of, also does its part to nurture science talent in our schools. Recently PRI organized a website where its diverse mix of scientists and researchers discussed how they prepared for success in green science careers. They also share their thoughts about the prospects for green jobs in the future.



Sustainability Seminar Series Fall 2016: Contaminants in the Environment

The ISTC Sustainability Seminar Series continues on Thursdays this fall with the theme “Contaminants in the Environment.” The schedule of seminar speakers is below. To be added to the seminar and events email list or to receive links to the live broadcasts of the seminars, please contact Beth Meschewski at


All seminars will be held at ISTC (1 E. Hazelwood Dr. in Champaign) in the SJW Conference Room. The series is an opportunity to share information and discussion with peers in a relaxed, informal environment. Please feel free to bring a lunch. Seminars usually last about an hour and questions are welcome. The seminars will be broadcast live and will also be recorded and archived on the ISTC website:   Continue reading

U.S. Army Lab Engineer Spending Fruitful Year Collaborating with Illinois Peers

Steve Cosper standing in front of pull up banners that read Energy, Water, Reuse of Materials, Contamin. each banner has an image related to its word


Steve Cosper is in the middle of a busy sabbatical year collaborating with Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) researchers on a range of projects of mutual benefit spanning energy, water, and waste issues. It is the latest highlight of a closer relationship between the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) and the Army’s major research center in Champaign.


ERDC Innovative Solutions for a safer, better world

logo for US Armey Corp of Engineers white fort type castle on red backgroundThe Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL), a division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), has paired with ISTC on several research projects over the years but it wasn’t until about two years ago with the arrival of ISTC’s current director, Kevin O’Brien that the relationship deepened.


Last week, Cosper and ISTC Research Scientist Lance Schideman were invited to participate in workshop on water/wastewater and solid waste management at the National Defense University in Washington DC. The Department of Defense (DOD)-United Nations Technology Workshop was organized in response to a Presidential guidance to the Defense Department to support UN Peacekeeping operations around the world with DOD experience to enhance their effectiveness and environmental impacts.

Continue reading

Sponsors of IL Governor’s Sustainability Awards Support 30-Year Legacy of Leadership

The Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award is the oldest, longest running environmental award program in both the state of Illinois and the US as a whole. Since 1987, the Award has recognized private and public Illinois organizations which have implemented outstanding and innovative sustainable techniques or technologies, demonstrating a commitment to contributing to our environmental, social and economic health. Though this year’s application period has passed, you can learn more about the Award and how your organization might apply in the future at


Each year, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center honors Award winners at a ceremony in the fall. Organizations that attend the Award Ceremony have an opportunity to interface and network directly with leading sustainable organizations, speakers and keynotes, and learn more about how organizations throughout Illinois are implementing sustainability. This year’s ceremony will take place on November 1 at the Union League Club of Chicago, IL. Check the ISTC web site for details; registration for the event will be available in the near future.


We’d like to acknowledge the organizations to date which have chosen to sponsor this year’s award ceremony. These sponsors support a 30-year legacy of leadership, ensuring that our state’s innovators receive recognition for the sustainability strategies they have implemented, encouraging winners to continue their pursuit of excellence while inspiring others to follow suit. We are grateful for their patronage of this program. Our current sponsors are listed below, by sponsorship level. If your organization is interested in supporting the ceremony, opportunities are still available. Learn more at, and contact Irene Zlevor for further details and registration.


Sustaining Sponsors


Sloan Valve Logo

Supporting Sponsors


DQS Logo

Earth Friendly Products Logo

Marathon logo

Friends of the Awards


Christopher Burke Logo

IERG logo


Focus on Food Waste: New Guide Catalogs State Regulations on Food Scraps as Animal Feed

The US EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy establishes priorities for the types of activities individuals and organizations can undertake to prevent and reduce food waste. The hierarchy is depicted as an inverted pyramid, showing the most desirable or effective activities at the top (the pyramid’s “base”), with least desirable activities at the bottom (the pyramid’s “tip”).


US EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy


As with any consideration of waste reduction, source reduction, or preventing waste before it occurs through changes in processes is the most preferred category of activity in this hierarchy. Source reduction activities can include actions such as adjusting food preparation practices so less surplus food is generated, altering food buying habits to reduce spoilage of product before it can be used, or altering serving practices so that people are not provided more food than they are likely to eat. Source reduction of food waste is the most efficient means to ensure that the myriad resources invested in food production and distribution (water, land, energy, human labor, etc.) are not squandered. Next on the list of priorities is feeding hungry people–in other words, diverting any unused, edible food to food banks, shelters, soup kitchens or similar programs so it provides nutrition as intended, instead of occupying space in a landfill. If food cannot be diverted for human consumption (because it is deemed unfit for humans, because it exceeds the amount of food that can be feasibly managed by human food donation infrastructure, etc.), then the next most desirable option is to use food scraps as livestock feed, or food for animals in shelters, zoos, or as raw material for animal feed manufacturers. Many of us may have mental images of farmers in days gone by saving scraps for pig feed, or “slop.” During WWII, when so many materials were in short supply due to the war effort, this practice was even encouraged by governments, as evidenced by this historic UK poster:


WWII poster promoting saving kitchen scraps for pig feed

Image source: Save


In modern times, diverting food scraps to feed animals has continued to be used in some instances with great success, keeping materials out of landfill and reducing operating costs for businesses and institutions. The US EPA web site features success stories from New Jersey’s Rutgers University and MGM Resorts International, which diverts scraps from several properties in Las Vegas. However, many well-intentioned programs attempt to divert food scraps to animal feed without being aware of the patchwork of regulations and restrictions that exist throughout the country, sometimes inadvertently violating the laws of their state. Regulations vary widely, and are tied to modern efforts to control the spread of disease among livestock. Some states allow feeding of scraps to livestock after heat treatment to ensure destruction of disease vectors. Other states, including Illinois, have outright bans on feeding food scraps to livestock, particularly swine, even if the scraps are plant-based. The one exception to the Illinois restrictions is that farmers may use scraps from their own households to feed their own swine. While researching state law on this matter for ISTC’s Green Lunchroom Challenge, I was personally struck by the use of the word “garbage” which regulation defines as “All waste material derived in whole or in part from the meat of any animal (including fish and poultry) or other animal material, and other refuse of any character whatsoever that has been associated with any such material, resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking, or consumption of food, except that such term shall not include waste from ordinary household operations which is fed directly to swine on the same premises where such household is located. Garbage also includes putrescible vegetable waste. “Garbage” does not include the contents of the bovine digestive tract. § 5/48-7 (2015).” Not exactly the common citizen’s definition of the word.


Luckily, to help guide organizations and individuals that are focusing more of their efforts on food recovery, the University of Arkansas Food Recovery Project and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic have just released a first of its kind guide cataloging the various different state regulations tied to feeding food scraps to animals. Leftovers for Livestock: A Legal Guide to Using Excess Food as Animal Feed, can assist in navigating the somewhat daunting array of such regulations, helping programs ensure compliance with both federal and state law. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in food recovery, and for those interested in sustainability-related policy, it can provide an interesting example of how complex seemingly simple solutions may become when regulations vary from one location to the next. The guide is available online in PDF format from the Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation at the Harvard Law School.


Leftovers for Livestock cover image

Discover Smart Irrigation in U.S. EPA WaterSense Webinar

United States Environmental Protection Agency's Water Sense logoIn this high tech world we still have some low tech ways to control automated services such as irrigation. The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense Program has teamed with the Alliance for Water Efficiency to bring you a webinar on new WaterSense labeled weather-based irrigation controls that use smart tech to optimize irrigation and water savings. Register for the September 15th smart irrigation webinar.


As a WaterSense partner, ISTC encourages the public to conserve water in a number of ways including our One Billion Gallon Water Challenge. You can pledge to save water today! Our Challenge also sponsored six water conservation efforts at businesses, cities, and colleges/universities in 2014-2015 that saved Illinois over 70 million gallons of water.


ISTC also helps Illinois businesses, manufacturers, government agencies, and organizations conserve water via our technical assistance program. ISTC has recently helped Illinoisans save over 45 million gallons though process efficiency and retrofits.

Walgreens Creates New Medicine Take-Back Program

Walgreens logoWalgreens has started a medicine take back program at select Walgreens in Illinois.  If all goes well, they will be expanding the program to other states later this year. A full list of take-back locations and more details about the program can be found in their press release.


There are a variety of reasons to take advantage of such programs. One of the most important reasons, fighting drug abuse – a national public health and safety concern.  Another reason is to prevent accidental contamination of the environment. Find out more information on how medicines and personal care products enter the environment, affect plants and animals, and potential solutions on ISTC’s website.


Many Illinois communities have already started take-back programs.  Typically the drop boxes are located at police stations. Find a drop box in your community by visiting the Illinois EPA’s searchable map.


Don’t already have a medicine take-back program in your community? You can start your own local take-back program. Visit the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s (IISG) website to learn more. IISG may have funding opportunities or could help procure funding assistance for your community.