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

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

Waukegan reaches milestone in harbor cleanup

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

Waukegan Harbor has reached a pivotal moment in its history — one that city leaders hope will revive its sagging economy — with the culmination of a 30-year, $150 million cleanup to rid the shoreline of contamination left by the city’s former industrial giants along Lake Michigan.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday that the harbor has met requirements to be removed from a list of 43 polluted sites dubbed the “Great Lakes Areas of Concern.” The federal agency will continue to monitor the site for an unspecified amount of time, possibly a few years, before it is officially “de-listed,” officials said.

Illinois DCEO Solar and Wind Rebate Program is now open

Guidelines and application are available here. All applications must be submitted, without exception, on the new forms for Fiscal Year 2015 and must be filled out completely and signed and dated by both the applicant and the installer/project manager. Any applications received under previous application forms will be rejected.

DCEO will accept applications for the random selection until October 10th, 2014. Applications will be assigned a number as they are received, and there will a pre-selected list of random numbers that will be used as the order we will consider applications. DCEO will keep moving down the list of applications based on the random numbers list until all rebate funds have been allocated. The remaining applications will be on a waiting list and will be considered (again, based on the random number list) as projects are cancelled or if additional funds become available.

DCEO is continuing to require that the application be submitted by the applicant. While the installer/developer may assist in filling out application and organizing the required documents, the application cannot be sent to us by the installer.

All solar PV and wind energy systems, except those that are self-installed, must be installed by a certified distributed generation installer. (Illinois Commerce Commission’s certified list is available at DCEO will not approve an application until it can be confirmed that the installer has been certified by the ICC.

The Final Documentation Checklist (Section 4.2 and Appendix C of new guidelines) has also been updated to require that applicants provide the approved interconnection application or the Certificate of Completion from the utility (if applicable).

DCEO prefers that applications be submitted via email (, though applications may be sent through regular mail. However, please do not submit both ways – just need one copy of the application. If you send applications by email, you will receive a response that your application has been received.

Approximately $2.5 million has been allocated to the rebate program this fiscal year.

University of Illinois Extension Announces Successful Awards

University of Illinois Extension recently announced awards for six collaborative projects, totaling over $1.2 million, to interdisciplinary teams of faculty and staff. The awards were part of the University of Illinois Extension and Outreach Initiative, a special partnership between U of I Extension, the Dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES), and the Office of the Provost. The six awards were selected from a pool of 71 pre-proposals from 16 different campus units.

“We were very pleased with the number and quality of the proposals we received from across campus in response to this initiative,” said Robert Hauser, Dean of ACES. “The six projects moving forward are outstanding examples of the impact and value that extension and outreach can provide to a variety of disciplines throughout the University.”

University of Illinois Extension is the flagship outreach arm of the University. Extension’s statewide network of educators and county-based offices provide programming in economic development, health and nutrition, agriculture and natural resources, and youth development. Traditionally, most Extension programs are related to departments within the College of ACES. This Extension and Outreach Initiative was aimed at establishing programs with departments and units elsewhere on campus.

Principal investigators and project titles:

  • Jon Gant, Library of Information Science and Illinois Informatics Institute, Graduate School of Library and Information Science. “Enhancing Economic Development in Illinois with Digital Tech Hub Creativity Studios.”
  • Kevin Hamilton, Department of Art and Design, Fine and Applied Arts. “Designing for Health in Central Illinois.”
  • Lenny Pitt, Department of Computer Science, College of Engineering. “4-H Computing Connections.”
  • Aric Rindfleisch, College of Business. “Marketplace Literacy and 3-D Printing: Enabling Economic Development for Impoverished Communities.”
  • Kim Sheahan, Spurlock Museum, Liberal Arts and Sciences. “An Artifact Speaks.”
  • Wei Zheng, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, Prairie Research Institute. “Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products: Extending Knowledge and Mitigation Strategies.”

Hauser explained that the Initiative was intended to expand Extension’s research base across the Urbana campus, raise awareness of Extension among faculty and stakeholders, and advance the University’s land grant mission through new, innovative partnerships.

“This year we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Smith Lever Act, the federal legislation that launched Cooperative Extension at Land Grant institutions nationwide,” Hauser said. “We are working to broaden our approach to provide research-based information from the whole University.”

For more information about University of Illinois Extension, visit University of Illinois Extension provides educational programs and research-based information to help Illinois residents improve their quality of life, develop skills and solve problems.

Illinois coal plant owners say they’ve done their part

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

Owners of coal- and natural gas-fired power plants in Illinois told regulators Monday that they should look to other generators to reduce the state’s carbon footprint.