Archive for July, 2015

Green Lunchroom Challenge to Assist IL Schools with Food Waste Prevention, Reduction

Thursday, July 16th, 2015 by

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, food production represents 10 percent of the total US energy budget, uses 50 percent of US land, and accounts for 80 percent of the freshwater we consume–yet, 40 percent of food in the US goes uneaten. And in 2013, 49.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households, including 33.3 million adults and 15.8 million children. Food waste is clearly both a tremendous problem and opportunity for improving the sustainability of our society. Reducing food waste in schools not only helps to ensure those precious expended resources are providing nutrition as intended, but also provides the opportunity to set important examples of conservation and systems thinking among our impressionable youth, which will hopefully stay with them as they become our next generation of leaders.

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) is therefore pleased to announce an exciting new project that addresses this important societal and environmental challenge. In order to identify sources of food waste in K-12 schools and facilitate its prevention and reduction, ISTC, in collaboration with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), UI Extension, and Beyond Green Partners, Inc., is launching the Green Lunchroom Challenge this fall. Funded by US EPA Region 5, the program is open for participation from K-12 schools throughout the state. Marketing of the program will however, be targeted toward underserved regions of southern Illinois, including Pulaski, Alexander, Marion, White, and Fayette counties. According to data from the ISBE, over 70 percent of K-12 students in those counties are eligible for assistance through the National School Lunch Program. By preventing and reducing food waste in these areas particularly, and throughout the state, it is hoped the Challenge will not only achieve environmental benefits, but also stretch federal and state assistance and resources through increased efficiency.

Elementary school students in cafeteria

Photo: USDA Blog

Similar to the successful Illinois Green Office Challenge, the Green Lunchroom Challenge is a voluntary, “friendly competition,” in which participating schools will choose among a variety of suggested activities to improve the sustainability of their food service. These activities will range in complexity and commitment to allow participants to best suit their situation, budget, and available community resources. Examples might include, but not be limited to, composting of food scraps, use of creative entree names and careful relative placement of food choices to reduce waste of fruit and vegetables, donation of unused food to local food banks or shelters, etc. In addition to operationally related activities, schools may also choose to integrate food waste prevention and reduction into curricula, helping students learn about food security and hunger, composting, the circular economy, and stewardship. Resources and guidance will be available on the project web site and from ISTC technical assistance staff for each recommended activity, and participants will earn points for every activity they complete. Relative progress will be displayed on an online leaderboard. On Earth Day 2016, the participating public K-12 school with the most points will be declared the winner for the year and will receive public recognition and a prize (to be determined) to foster continuous improvement.

A kickoff workshop will be held in September 2015 (date and location to be announced) to introduce the Challenge; identify (in part through feedback from school and district representatives in attendance) key sources of food waste in schools, as well as barriers to its prevention; to raise awareness among potential participants of existing relevant toolkits and programs; and to provide comprehensive training on analysis and modification of menus, food procurement and inventory, lunchroom procedures, etc. Note that a school does not need to participate in the workshop to participate in the Challenge, and schools may register throughout the Challenge period (Sept. 1, 2015- April 1, 2016). While the competition is only open to K-12 schools in Illinois, ISTC hopes that other states and organizations beyond schools will be able to use resources developed for the Challenge to guide food waste reduction and prevention in their operations and regions.

Interested parties may contact Joy Scrogum with questions or to request addition to the mailing list for more information on the workshop and activities as it becomes available. The project web site will be available soon, and potential participants will be able to sign up to receive further information there as well. (The URL for the program web site will be posted in the comments of this post as soon as it is live.)

cafeteria tray

Photo by Tim Lauer, principal of Meriwether Lewis Elementary School in Portland, Oregon

This post was originally published on the ISTC Blog, July 7, 2015.

EPA Honors Winners of the 20th Annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards

Monday, July 13th, 2015 by

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recognizing landmark green chemistry technologies developed by industrial pioneers and leading scientists that turn climate risk and other environmental problems into business opportunities, spurring innovation and economic development.

“From academia to business, we congratulate those who bring innovative solutions that will help solve some of the most critical environmental problems,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “These innovations reduce the use of energy, hazardous chemicals and water, while cutting manufacturing costs and sparking investments. In some cases they turn pollution into useful products. Ultimately, these manufacturing processes and products are safer for people’s health and the environment. We will continue to work with the 2015 winners as their technologies are adopted in the marketplace.”

The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award winners be honored at a ceremony in Washington, DC. The winners and their innovative technologies are:

Algenol in Fort Myers, Florida, is being recognized for developing a blue-green algae to produce ethanol and other fuels. The algae uses CO2 from air or industrial emitters with sunlight and saltwater to create fuel while dramatically reducing the carbon footprint, costs and water usage, with no reliance on food crops as feedstocks. This is a win-win for the company, the public, and the environment. It has the potential to revolutionize this industry and reduce the carbon footprint of fuel production.

Hybrid Coating Technologies/Nanotech Industries of Daly City, California, is being recognized for developing a safer, plant-based polyurethane for use on floors, furniture and in foam insulation. The technology eliminates the use of isocyanates, which contribute to workplace asthma. This is already in production, is reducing VOC’s and costs, and is safer for people and the environment.

LanzaTech in Skokie, Illinois, is being recognized for the development of a process that uses waste gas to produce fuels and chemicals, reducing companies’ carbon footprint. LanzaTech has partnered with Global Fortune 500 Companies and others to use this technology, including facilities that can each produce 100,000 gallons per year of ethanol, and a number of chemical ingredients for the manufacture of plastics. This technology is already a proven winner and has enormous potential for American industry.

SOLTEX (Synthetic Oils and Lubricants of Texas) in Houston, Texas, is being recognized for developing a new chemical reaction process that eliminates the use of water and reduces hazardous chemicals in the production of additives for lubricants and gasoline. If widely used, this technology has the potential to eliminate millions of gallons of wastewater per year and reduce the use of a hazardous chemical by 50 percent.

Renmatix in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, is being recognized for developing a process using supercritical water to more cost effectively break down plant material into sugars used as building blocks for renewable chemicals and fuels. This innovative low-cost process could result in a sizeable increase in the production of plant-based chemicals and fuels, and reduce the dependence on petroleum fuels.

Professor Eugene Chen of Colorado State University is being recognized for developing a process that uses plant-based materials in the production of renewable chemicals and liquid fuels. This new technology is waste-free and metal-free. It offers significant potential for the production of renewable chemicals, fuels, and bioplastics that can be used in a wide range of safer industrial and consumer products.

During the 20 years of the program, EPA has received more than 1500 nominations and presented awards to 104 technologies. Winning technologies are responsible for annually reducing the use or generation of more than 826 million pounds of hazardous chemicals, saving 21 billion gallons of water, and eliminating 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent releases to air.

An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute formally judged the 2015 submissions from among scores of nominated technologies and made recommendations to EPA for the 2015 winners. The 2015 awards event will be held in conjunction with the 2015 Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference.

For more information on this year’s winners and those from the last two decades, visit http://www2.epa.gov/green-chemistry.

Job announcement: Director of the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute

Thursday, July 9th, 2015 by

The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is now accepting applications for the NYS Pollution Prevention Institute Director.

To view the full position announcement or to apply, visit http://careers.rit.edu/staff, click Search Openings, and enter 1850BR in the keyword field.

Salary range: $ 86,200 – $138,000

The Director leads and directs the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I), a statewide technology development, transfer, and assistance center whose mission is to make New York state more environmentally sustainable for businesses, workers, and the public through more efficient use of raw materials, energy and water, and reductions in toxic chemical use, emissions to the environment and waste generation.  NYSP2I is an integrated program of several major elements: direct technical assistance to industry and organizations; research, development, and diffusion; outreach; professional training; a community grants program; and academic educational program development. NYSP2I is led by the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and is a partnership between RIT, Clarkson University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University at Buffalo and the ten NYS Regional Technology Development Centers (RTDCs). The primary source of funding for NYSP2I is provided by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) through a dedicated line item. The Director will manage a team of professionals at the NYSP2I at RIT

This role will contribute to NYSP2I’s success by delivering quality work in the following service areas:

  • Engage New York State industry and organizations for the purpose of providing direct assistance in the areas of toxics use reduction, process improvement, and resource conservation;
  • Research, develop and transfer pollution prevention (P2) technologies to NY companies;
  • Assist NYS companies with introducing green technologies to the market;
  • Help companies achieve sustainable supply chain goals;
  • Develop P2 assessment tools and deliver P2 training to businesses, technical assistance providers, and community organizations;
  • Provide research and technical support to the RTDCs;
  • Develop and implement P2 priority setting and performance tracking programs to maximize program effectiveness; and
  • Provide grants to community projects that help to achieve pollution prevention.

Required Minimum Qualifications

Education
Demonstrated knowledge of engineering, science, green chemistry, environmental science or sustainability, in addition to project and business management principles, methods and techniques. Master’s degree in a technical field of study required (i.e. engineering, chemistry, environmental studies, sustainability, or related fields). PhD strongly preferred.

Experience

  • A minimum of ten years related work experience is required.
  • Must have a minimum of five years of experience in a technical P2, green chemistry, environmental science or sustainability position, in addition to experience in a leadership role with supervisory responsibility.
  • Must have experience in the following areas: project/program management, technical assistance and training, P2 technologies/approaches, manufacturing and/or P2 assessments.
  • Experience in environmental regulatory compliance and management systems will also be considered.
  • Experience with proposal development and securing grant funding.
  • Experience working with state and/or federal funding and contracting processes preferred.

Essential Skills and Abilities

  • Highly motivated and self-directed
  • Strong oral and written communication skills
  • Knowledge and ability to work with a variety of persons and organizations having diverse issues, concerns, and agendas
  • Knowledge and ability to coordinate meetings, deliver presentations and collaborate with stakeholders
  • Knowledge and ability to lead; think creatively; proactively adapt to changing environment; act decisively, and inspire and empower others.
  • Demonstrated in-depth knowledge and expertise in pollution prevention and sustainable consumption and production
  • Project organization and management skills.
  • Effective verbal communication and public speaking skills