Archive for the 'Technical assistance' Category

P2 Intern Programs Help Businesses Reduce Waste and Save Money

Thursday, September 24th, 2015 by

P2ResultsforCongress_April 2015Although many businesses and organizations want to become more sustainable, they often lack the time and the money to implement specific projects.  This is where P2/E2 intern programs can help. The programs place engineering students at companies and organizations to conduct focused research on specific pollution prevention and energy efficiency projects.

The programs are win-win for organizations and students. Interns have the opportunity to evaluate and potentially implement pollution prevention and energy efficiency solutions in a real-world setting, while companies realize significant savings by implementing the intern’s recommendations.

Within U.S. EPA Region 5, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program both have long-running, successful intern programs.

Illinois EPA

Each year, Illinois EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention recruits upper-level university students to work on both pollution prevention (P2) and energy efficiency (E2) projects during the summer.  The purpose of the program is to help facilities identify, research and pilot P2 technologies and practices. In the area of E2, companies can realize overhead cost savings due to increased energy efficiency while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The interns provide technical assistance at a relatively modest cost and bring a fresh perspective to the organization. In 2011 and 2012, the program helped facilities save over $1.9 million in reduced operating and disposal costs.

While students have been placed primarily at manufacturing facilities, they have also worked at small business development centers, trade associations, local government facilities, environmental groups and military installations. Each student selected for the program is required to attend an initial P2 training program in Springfield. The student spends the remainder of the 12-week summer session working as a temporary full-time employee at the sponsoring facility. Students typically have backgrounds in engineering or environmental management.

Each intern student selected for the program is required to attend a one-week training class, which covers topics like: net zero waste; energy efficiency (lighting, boilers, HVAC, motors/VFDs and air compressor systems); water conservation; process mapping; and renewable energy. Once on the job, the intern must adhere to a work schedule; follow company policies and regulations; work with management and staff; and prepare bi-weekly progress reports.

To participate in the program, host facilities must provide a well defined project(s), student supervision, work space, safety training, employee cooperation and workers’ compensation. Depending on program funding availability, the facility may also be responsible for paying a portion of or the entire student salary, which averages approximately $2,700 a month for a 12 week period (one week of training and 11 weeks in the field).

Illinois EPA recruits qualified students, trains interns on pollution prevention techniques, matches interns with host facilities, establishes contracts with interns, reviews progress reports, and provides technical support.

Project technical summaries for completed internships are available at

For more information on the IEPA Intern Program, contact Richard Reese.


Each summer, MnTAP recruits and hires junior and senior college students who have strong technical backgrounds and leadership abilities to work on waste and energy reduction projects at companies in Minnesota. Typically, six projects are funded each year in locations around the state. Each year’s projects are different; they address different challenges within a number of different industries. Therefore, project specifics vary year-to-year.

Students who participate in the program are expected to:

  • Attend a full-day orientation and training on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus.
  • Determine how waste is currently produced and energy is used in company processes. Gather data from reviewing reports and running tests.
  • Identify what other companies are doing in regards to the project. Contact vendors about best available technologies. Research and evaluate options for reducing waste and/or energy use.
  • Work with the company’s management and employees to determine feasibility of different waste and/or energy reduction options. Develop a cost comparison between the use of existing procedures and new ones.
  • Write a final report and present project results.

Interns work on site at the company facilities under the supervision of the company and MnTAP staff. Positions are full-time for three months, starting at the conclusion of spring semester or quarter. Interns are paid $13.00 per hour during the 500 hours of summer employment. They are also  awarded a $1,000 stipend at the completion of their project. The stipend is contingent upon the completion of project deliverables such as a final report, presentations, and other duties as requested by MnTAP and the company. Cumulatively, pay equals approximately $15.00 per hour when averaged over the three months of the project.

To qualify for the intern program, companies must be located in Minnesota; interested in reducing industrial waste; willing to make operational or procedural improvements to accomplish a waste reduction or energy efficiency goal; and be able to develop a project idea that applies to other Minnesota businesses. Companies are asked to provide an on-site supervisor as an in-kind contribution and contribute 10% of the total project cost ($3,000) to help support the intern program. These funds are used to offset project costs such as student compensation.

Project technical summaries for completed internships are available at

For more information on the MnTAP intern program, contact Linda Maleitzke.

Related Resources

Project spotlight: MPCA’s BPA/BPS in Thermal Receipt Paper project

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015 by

P2ResultsforCongress_April 2015This project encourages Minnesota businesses to voluntarily reduce the amount of thermal receipt papers they use and distribute to their customers. These papers typically contain relatively high concentrations of the chemical Bisphenol-A or related chemicals.

The project specifically targeted the hospitality sector, paper recyclers, and other interested partners. The goals of the project were to:

  1. test samples of papers from business partners and estimate how much BPA is contained in the thermal papers used by participating partners
  2. provide information to assist MPCA in setting guidance on best end-of-life management for thermal receipt paper
  3. assist partners in switching to paperless point-of sale systems, or as a second-choice option, implement other exposure-reduction strategies
  4. share the case studies of partner businesses and promote use of paperless systems to other Minnesota businesses

Bisphenol-A is commonly used in a variety of applications including in hard polycarbonate plastic resins, in epoxy resins for adhesives, sealants, and food can linings, and in flame retardants. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is also on the Minnesota Department of Health’s list of Priority Chemicals.  BPA is a reproductive, developmental, and systemic toxicant in animal studies and is weakly estrogenic. It has been found in a majority of American adults and children and in Minnesota’s groundwater and lakes and streams.

The most common substitute for BPA in thermal papers ─ bisphenol S, or BPS ─ has shown the same sort of endocrine disrupting behavior in studies as BPA. No alternative thermal paper developer is known to be safer.  An increasing number of retailers are offering receipts digitally via email or text, instead of on paper.

mpca-center-colorNineteen voluntary partners worked with Stratford Companies, MPCA’s contractor,  to test their thermal receipt papers for BPA and BPS content and implement changes to their point-of-sale systems and operating procedures to reduce the amount of thermal paper they use and the amount of BPA or BPS to which their employees are exposed. The hospitality sector includes restaurants and coffee shops, event centers, parks, resorts, hotels, etc.

The MPCA offered Minnesota hospitality businesses the opportunity to apply for grants under the “Hospitality Business Transition to Paperless Receipt Grant Project”. The grants were used to reimburse up to $1,000 of costs for digital receipt subscription services to eligible applicants.

The project produced several case studies, mainly from smaller businesses. Some of the consumer best practices from these case studies include:

  • Choose paperless receipts, if possible.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after touching receipts, especially before preparing or eating food.
  • Don’t give kids receipts to hold or play with.
  • Store receipts separately in your purse or wallet.

For more information on the BPA/BPS in Thermal Receipt Paper project, contact Madalyn Cioci.

Project Resources

Other Related Resources


Program Spotlight: Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Awards

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015 by

P2ResultsforCongress_April 2015Cassie Carroll, Associate Sustainability Specialist and coordinator for the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Awards, contributed this post about the history and impact of the program. If you would like to spotlight your project or program on the blog, please contact Laura Barnes.

Since 1987, the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Awards has recognized over 500 public and private organizations for environmental excellence. In it’s 29th year, it is the longest-running awards program with a pollution prevention focus in the country. This year’s ceremony will be held on October 27th at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers (301 E. North Water St.) .

The awards were originally called the Illinois Governor’s Pollution Prevention Awards. At that time, ISTC was named the Illinois Hazardous Waste Research and Information Center (HWRIC). HWRIC’s Industrial Technical Assistance Program had just been established to help Illinois manufacturers reduce pollution and prevent waste. The awards program was modeled on a similar one in North Carolina (since discontinued). The goals of the program were to recognize those companies that had significantly reduced their impact and encourage others in the state to follow suit.

first year winners govs awards

Winning companies at the first Illinois Governor’s Pollution Prevention Awards in 1987.

In the Award’s founding year, four companies were recognized: Continental/Midland Inc.; General Motors Corporation – Central Foundry; Safety-Kleen Corporation; and Solvent Systems International, Inc.

The number of award winners continued to grow teach year. In 1999, the Center (then known as the Waste Management & Research Center) added a Continuous Improvement Award to honor companies that continued to demonstrate excellence in pollution prevention. In 2009, the name of the award changed to the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Awards. The change  acknowledged the Center’s broader scope as the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center and recognized that many applicants were not only reducing pollution, but incorporating all three aspects of sustainability: environmental, economic, and social.

The awards program continues to be successful for several reasons. First, companies realize that there are cost savings involved with efficient use of materials, water, and energy. Many companies also want to get ahead of regulation and demonstrate good corporate citizenship in their communities. Finally, many organizations and companies integrate sustainability because clients and consumers demand that they do so.

2013 govs awards metrics

Environmental and economic impact of 2013 Governor’s Award winners.

The impact of the award winners is impressive. Although the majority of winners are from manufacturing companies located in Chicagoland area, applicants come from every region of the state and constitute a broad range of public and private organizations. Hospitals, manufacturers, municipalities, NGO’s, higher educational institutions, K-12 schools, and corporations have earned awards. Many companies apply for awards more than once. For example, Navistar has won the Governor’s Sustainability Award 14 times since 1987. A summary of the environmental and economic impact of the 2013 award winners appears at left.

The future of the Governor’s Sustainability Awards remains bright. Award winners not only contribute significantly to the environmental health of both the state and the Great Lakes region, they also serve as role models to other organizations.

For more information


NPPR hosts Green Chemistry Guide – Listen and Learn Webinar Series

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015 by

The City of Los Angeles, the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) and the Western Sustainability and Pollution Prevention Roundtable (WSPPN) announce the availability of the Green Chemistry Guide, developed in collaboration with renowned university professors, industry professionals, and the City of Los Angeles’ engineers.

This manual provides state agencies and technical assistance providers (engineers) with tools and resources to better serve their clients who are looking for information and to support greening their operations, processes, products and supply chains. Business owners can also use the publication to develop and implement green chemistry solutions and improve profitability.

WSPPN and NPPR are cohosting a series of webinars that will cover the content of the manual chapter-by-chapter.  Learn about the green chemistry movement from the authors themselves.

Ch. 5 – The Green Chemistry Mindset and Life Cycle Thinking
Tuesday, September 15 – 1:00 p.m. CDT —  Register

Chapter 5, presented by author Ally LaTourelle, covers what is the green chemistry mindset from different vantage points, the beneficial outcomes for companies that embrace green chemistry principles, and green chemistry and life cycle assessment.

Ch. 4 – Green Engineering and Pollution Prevention & Ch. 6 – Green Chemistry Tools – What’s Out There?
Wednesday, October 21 – 1:00 p.m. CDT —  Register

Jonathan Rivin covers Chapter 4 – Green Engineering and Pollution Prevention and Chapter 6 – Green Chemistry Tools – What’s Out There?

Chapter 4 covers green engineering, the principles of green chemistry, how the green engineering principles relate to P2 concepts and provides case studies of green engineering.

Chapter 6 provides an overview of software tools and guidance documents that can be used for implementing green chemistry principles, what tool to use at different stages in the product life cycle and resources for tool selection.

Ch. 7 – Building the Business Case for Green Chemistry
Monday, November 16 – 1:00 p.m. CDT — Register

Al Innes, Michelle Butler and Kate Winnebeck present Chapter 7 – how to build the business case for green chemistry, the steps needed for initiating a successful program, and accounting for all cost.

Ch. 8 – Implementation of the Green Chemistry Change and Sustaining Success
Tuesday, December 15 – 2:00 p.m. EDT —  Register

Chapter 8, presented by author Lissa McCracken, is the implementation of sustainability practices into business models and integrating pollution prevention and green chemistry strategies and models.

Two upcoming WaterSense webinars

Monday, August 24th, 2015 by

A for Assess: Setting Goals and Developing a Water Management Plan
Thu, Aug 27, 2015 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM CDT
Register at

Join us for WaterSense’s second of four technical training webinars of 2015 for C&I facilities. As discussed in the first webinar of this series, water management planning starts with a facility assessment. This webinar will build on that concept by helping participants use the information collected during a facility assessment to establish water use reduction goals and develop a water management plan. Following this webinar, you’ll be ready to prepare your water management plan by incorporating realistic goals—which is the next step in managing and reducing your water use.

C for Change: Implementing Your Water Management Plan and Other Best Management Practices
Thu, Oct 22, 2015 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM CDT
Register at

WaterSense’s third of four technical training webinars of 2015 for C&I facilities will walk through some of the most cost-effective projects and biggest water savers that can be implemented at your facility. WaterSense will provide an overview of water-efficient operating procedures, retrofits, and replacements in private use restrooms, public restrooms, commercial kitchens, mechanical spaces, and outdoor landscapes. From this webinar, participants should come away with new ideas and more details about water-saving projects to implement at their facility.

To view archived WaterSense webinars, visit

Celebrating P2 Week and the 25th Anniversary of the Pollution Prevention Act

Monday, August 17th, 2015 by

P2ResultsforCongress_April 2015

Twenty-five years ago, Congress passed the Pollution Prevention Act. Pollution Prevention (P2) Week, celebrated during the third week of September each year (September 21-27, 2015),  highlights the efforts of EPA, its state partners, industry, and the public in preventing pollution right from the start.

How can your organization tell the P2 story all year long? Here are some ideas.

  • Buy greener products for your home or office.
  • Develop and implement a green purchasing policy for your organization. There are links to model policies here.
  • If you’re a public agency (including a public school or a library), join the State Electronics Challenge.
  • Give tours of your green business to showcase your efforts.
  • Organize a green business fair.
  • Host a workshop, brown bag lunch, or seminar related to pollution prevention.
  • Share stories about successfully implemented pollution prevention projects. For example, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center has developed a series of case studies that highlight organizations that have won the Governor’s Sustainability Awards.
  • Designate a place in your organization for people to share office supplies that they no longer need.
  • Organize a contest to reward employees for sharing ideas to prevent pollution.
  • Visit a local classroom to talk with kids about things that they can do to waste less stuff. Resources, including suggested picture books and craft ideas, are available here.
  • Use reusable utensils, lunch bags, and cups/mugs for meals.
  • Make your meetings, conferences, and workshops more sustainable. EPA’s green meetings guide has excellent tips.
  • Host a “Bike to Work” day. Looking ahead, encourage your staff to participate in National Bike to Work Week.
  • Make your home and office more energy efficient. The ENERGY Star web site has many suggestions.
  • Add the 25th Anniversary of the P2 Act logo (at the top of the post) to your web site. Use it as a button to link to your organization’s or GLRPPR’s P2 resources. Or simply use the logo on your agency or program pages to identify and promote P2.
  • Use the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable’s P2 Week Toolkit to add P2 to your social media strategy. Use #P2Week on Twitter when promoting P2 during P2 Week. Use #25YearsofP2 to raise awareness all year long.

This is a small sample of things that you can do. Have other suggestions? Share them in the comments!


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 launches new greenhouse gas inventory tools for local and tribal governments

Monday, June 22nd, 2015 by

EPA is pleased to announce that it has launched two free, interactive spreadsheet tools to help local governments and tribes across the United States evaluate their greenhouse gas emissions.

Both tools calculate greenhouse gas emissions for many sectors, including residential, commercial, transportation, and waste and water management. Each tool consists of two separate parts: one for community-wide inventories, the other for inventories of local or tribal government operations only.

These tools were designed to make calculating emissions flexible and easy: they are pre-programmed with default data, or the user may enter community-specific information.

Who should use these inventory tools?

The tool is designed for governments interested in compiling a relatively quick and simple GHG inventory. Local, tribal, and regional governments interested in developing emissions estimates should visit the Develop a Greenhouse Gas Inventory page for suggested approaches, key steps, case studies, and resources to determine if this simplified approach is appropriate for them and learn about other options.

What can you do with the results?

  • Create an emissions baseline
  • Track emissions trends
  • Assess the relative contributions of emissions sources
  • Communicate with stakeholders
  • Partner with other municipalities to create a regional inventory
  • Develop mitigation strategies and policies
  • Measure progress toward meeting GHG reduction goals

Great Lakes Region Awarded Restoration Initiative Grants by the EPA

Thursday, June 18th, 2015 by

The US Environmental Protection Agency has awarded various cities in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio with Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Shoreline Cities grants, totaling over $1.8 million. More than $800,000 was awarded to four cities in Wisconsin; more than $430,000 was awarded to four cities in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan; and more than $500,000 to three cities in northern Ohio. These funds are to be used for green infrastructure projects that will prevent contaminants from entering the water ways and improve water quality in Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Erie. Many of the economies of the cities along the shores of the Great Lakes rely heavily on the existing ecosystem, making it imperative to take action in order to preserve it. Porous pavement, bioswales, and rain gardens are just a few of the many improvements that will be made to these 11 cities. More information about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Shoreline Cities Green Infrastructure Grants can be found at

Climate Solutions University Now Accepting Applications for 2016

Friday, June 12th, 2015 by

Climate Solutions University has helped more than 30 communities create adaptation plans that are ready for implementation. Your region is a good fit for the program if you need to tackle the following challenges:

  • Social equity and the impact of climate change on vulnerable citizens
  • A regional approach to planning that integrates urban and rural linkages
  • Threats to watersheds, forest, and economic resources using an ecosystem services model

Who should apply to Climate Solutions University?

  • Community leaders of local government agencies
  • Watershed organizations and resource conservation districts
  • Nonprofits
  • Civic organizations

Participants foster positive, sustainable connections between people, economic, and ecosystem health! This is done through market solutions based in solid research. Visit Climate Solutions University or contact Recruitment Coordinator Josh Dye via email or at 612-481-8059 to get started.