Great Lakes

Illinois compost group solicits input from local businesses and government

Currently in the state of Illinois, if your organization produces lots of food scraps, the most cost-effective removal option is to put them in your trash and pay your waste hauler to bring them to the landfill. But according to EPA, Illinois landfills have only 21 years of capacity, and it is costly to build new ones–in dollars and environmental costs.

A group of more than 100 Illinois businesses, municipalities, county governments, universities and nonprofit organizations wants to address these issues by developing and promoting solutions for affordable, state-wide food scrap composting. Food scrap composting–which turns the material into usable soil nutrients–can take pressure off landfills and extend their life.

The Illinois Food Scrap Coalition ( will hold a FREE Food Scrap Composting Challenges and Solutions in Illinois Stakeholder Forum at the Champaign Public Library on September 22 from noon to 4 p.m. The group invites entities that produce food scraps, such as restaurants, hotels, hospitals, colleges and large businesses; large and small waste haulers; commercial compost facilities; and municipalities, government agencies, landscape companies, golf courses and others who use, or have the potential to use, large amounts of finished compost.

“In order for our project to work, we need input from Illinois stakeholders about their experiences and challenges with regard to composting,” says Cassandra Carroll, Executive Director of the Illinois Green Business Association and member of the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition. “Their day-to-day experiences in dealing with food discards will help shape practical solutions for advancing food scrap composting in the state.”

Three other forums are being held across the state. Forums in Central and Southern Illinois will also explore the agricultural aspects of commercial composting. This work is generously sponsored by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

Recommendations from the Food Scrap Composting Challenges and Solutions in Illinois Stakeholder Forums will be incorporated into a formal report providing a snapshot of the food scrap activities already underway in Illinois and including recommendations on how to encourage more food scrap diversion from landfills. The report summary will be presented to the Task Force on the Advancement of Materials Recycling, which, in turn, is required to submit a report to the Governor and General Assembly by January 1, 2015.

To register for the forum, visit

The Illinois Food Scrap Coalition (IFSC) is a group of more than 100 solid waste agencies, county governments, nonprofit organizations and state and federal agencies organized to promote food scrap composting in Illinois. Founding members include representatives from: Seven Generations Ahead, School and Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education (SCARCE), Solid Waste Association of Northern America (SWANA), Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC), Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO), Illinois Counties Solid Waste Management Association (ILCSWMA), Kendall County, DuPage County, Kane County, Cook County, Will County, Loyola University, McHenry County College, Village of Oak Park, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). Learn more at

Minnesota to publish new mercury rules

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency plans to publish the Notice of Adoption of the Mercury Air Emissions Reduction and Reporting Rules in the September 22, 2014 State Register. Information on these new rules is available on the MPCA’s Mercury Rules webpage at:

To access information about a particular rulemaking, visit the Public Rulemaking Docket.

Take a minute to learn about pollution prevention

Read the full post at Lakeside News.

Laura Kammin, our pollution prevention specialist, has some exciting news. Let’s let her tell you about it:

If you only had a minute, what would you say?

Just one minute to explain what pharmaceutical waste is and how people can help reduce it. That was the challenge posed by our new pollution prevention team members Erin Knowles and Adrienne Gulley.

Challenge accepted! Here it is, the first installment of the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Pollution Prevention Minute.

Call for papers/presentations for the Midwest Bio-Economy and Safer Products Summit

Share your innovations, insights and strategies at the Regional Conference for green chemistry and the bio-economy taking place February 18th- 19th, 2015 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Abstracts are now being accepted for presentations and posters. This is the fifth annual conference hosted by the Minnesota Green Chemistry Forum.

This year the conference will be exploring the theme “Regional Innovation for Solving Global Problems” through crafted tracks.  The following general topic areas are being proposed for the conference and the final agenda will be chosen, in part, from the areas represented by the topics submitted:

  • Bio-Based Technology Development
    • Product Development
    • Feedstock Innovation
    • Supply Chain Management
    • The Advancement of Cellulosic Conversion
    • How Higher Education Institutions are Driving new Bio-Based Technologies
    • Academic Collaboration for Research and Innovation
    • Case Studies: Successes and Failure of Bio-based Technology
  • Consumer Safety: Greening the Supply Chain and Sustainability Initiatives 
    • Supply Chain Integration of Green Chemistry Strategies
    • Product Safety: Avoiding Regrettable Substitutions
    • Product Risks and Hazard Assessments
    • Company Policies and Sustainability Initiatives
    • Substitutions for Problem Chemicals
    • Marketing Green Products
  • Regulation and Policy
    • New State Regulations
    • New Opportunities and Innovation Driven by Regulation
    • Safer Product Legislation and TSCA Reform
    • REACH
    • California Safer Chemistry Act
    • MN Toxic Free Kids Act
    • The Future of Chemical Policy in the U.S.

Visit the Conference Program page today for more information on the summit’s topics.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Provides Funding to Target Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Erie

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy today announced that the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) will provide almost $12 million to federal and state agencies to protect public health by targeting harmful algal blooms (HABs) in western Lake Erie. The funding builds upon the GLRI’s on-going efforts to reduce algal blooms and will be made available to Ohio, Michigan and Indiana state agencies and to the U.S. Geological Survey, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“The importance of clean water cannot be overstated, which is why the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is taking further action to target harmful algal blooms in western Lake Erie,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “This important funding will address the immediate need for state and federal agencies to protect public health and build upon on-going efforts to reduce harmful algal blooms.”

The new FY 2014 funding will be used to:

  • Expand monitoring and forecasting to help drinking water treatment plant operators and beach managers minimize health impacts associated with HABs;
  • Increase incentives for farmers in western Lake Erie watersheds to reduce phosphorus runoff that contributes to HABs; and
  • Improve measurement of phosphorus loads in Lake Erie tributaries.

In early August, the City of Toledo issued a “Do Not Drink” order for almost 500,000 people in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan when a drinking water treatment plant was adversely impacted by microcystin, a toxin produced in connection with HAB outbreaks on Lake Erie. In addition to generating toxins that pose risks to human health, HABs create low oxygen “dead zones” and harm shoreline economies.

On August 13, EPA Regional Administrator, Susan Hedman, convened a meeting of federal and state agencies to identify opportunities for collaboration to minimize HAB-related risks in the western Lake Erie Basin. GLRI funding announced today targets immediate needs identified during that meeting. The group will continue to focus resources on this issue in FY 2015 and beyond.

McCarthy, who chairs the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force, which oversees the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, made the announcement today at the task force meeting in Washington, D.C.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world. GLRI resources are used to strategically target the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem and to accelerate progress toward long term goals which includes eliminating harmful algal blooms. Under the initial GLRI Action Plan, GLRI resources doubled the acreage enrolled in agricultural conservation programs in the western Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay and Green Bay watersheds where nutrient runoff contributes to harmful algal blooms. Under the new GLRI Action Plan, which covers 2015-2019, projects to reduce nutrient loads from these agricultural watersheds will continue. Watershed management and green infrastructure projects to reduce untreated runoff from urban watersheds will also continue.

Information about the GLRI:

Illinois Water Resources Center Annual Small Grants: Student Research Awards 2015 Call for Proposals

Due: Friday, October 31, 2014

The Illinois Water Resources Center (IWRC) requests proposals to fund promising graduate and undergraduate student research projects addressing Illinois water resources. We are particularly interested in projects that seek solutions for or provide novel identification of pressing water concerns in Illinois. PI’s can request up to $10,000. Project duration is March 1, 2015-February 28, 2016.

For more information visit:


Lisa Merrifield