EPA Recognizes Governments, Organizations and Businesses for Outstanding Waste Reduction Efforts

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes the waste reduction accomplishments of 29 participants in and endorsers of EPA’s Waste Wise program and EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge. These collaborative initiatives apply sustainable materials management practices to decrease wasted food and municipal and industrial wastes in the United States, leading to economic and environmental improvements. EPA provides tools, resources and support to help participants establish baselines, set objectives, track progress and realize their waste reduction goals. EPA reviews the data submitted by participants by employing an extensive quality assurance process.

“Food Recovery Challenge participants diverted nearly 606,000 tons of wasted food from entering landfills or incinerators in 2014, nearly 88,600 tons of which were donated to people in need,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “These innovative efforts will help us achieve our ambitious national wasted food reduction goal – a 50 percent reduction by 2030. I encourage other organizations to follow their lead by joining the Food Recovery Challenge.”

In 2014, nearly 800 governments, businesses and organizations participated in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge, including grocers, educational institutions, sports and entertainment venues and restaurants. These entities diverted wasted food from entering landfills or incinerators through a variety of innovative actions, including creative re-use of trimmings by university dining staff; donating excess, wholesome food to food banks, shelters and soup kitchens; composting in urban settings; and using wasted food to produce electricity.

EPA recognizes Food Recovery Challenge participants and endorsers with awards in two categories: data-driven and narrative. The data-driven award recipients achieved the highest percent of wasted food diversion and prevention in their sector in 2014. Narrative award winners excelled in the areas of source reduction, leadership, innovation, education and outreach, and endorsement.

2015 Food Recovery Challenge National Award Winners

Data-driven Improvement by Sectors

  • Colleges and Universities: Salem State University, Salem, Massachusetts
  • K-12 Schools: Pearl City High School, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Grocers: Sprouts Farmers Market: 24, Tucson, Arizona
  • Hospitality: Ortega National Parks, LLC: White Sands Trading Company, Alamogordo, New Mexico
  • Restaurants and Food Service Providers: Serendipity Catering, Denver, Colorado
  • Sports and Entertainment Venues: SAVOR…Chicago-McCormick Place South, Chicago Illinois
  • Other Organization: Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Theo Lacy Facility, Orange, California

Narrative Categories

  • Source Reduction Winner: University California (UC), Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California
  • Source Reduction Honorable Mention: Clark University, Worchester, Massachusetts
  • Leadership Winner: MB Financial Park at Rosemont/Village of Rosemont, Rosemont, Illinois
  • Innovation Winner: Crystal Creamery, Modesto, California
  • Innovation Honorable Mention: City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Prison System, Philadelphia Pennsylvania
  • Education and Outreach Winner: Keene State College, Keene, New Hampshire
  • Endorser Winner: Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

WasteWise participants also reported impressive results in 2014, preventing and diverting more than 6.7 million tons of municipal and industrial waste from being disposed. These colleges and universities, federal, local and tribal governments, businesses and non-profit organizations implemented a variety of waste prevention and recycling initiatives to both reduce waste and increase efficiencies throughout their operations.

EPA recognizes exceptional WasteWise participants for their annual improvement, overall improvement and waste prevention performance by sector in 2014. Additionally, the endorser award recognizes outstanding efforts to promote WasteWise as a means to help organizations reduce waste and promote overall sustainable materials management.

2015 WasteWise Program Awardees

  • Federal Government Winner: U.S. Postal Service Headquarters Facilities, Orlando, Florida
  • Federal Government Honorable Mention: The Presidio Trust, San Francisco, California
  • Tribal Government Winner: Chumash Casino Resort, Santa Ynez, California
  • Local Government Winner: City of Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Small Business Winner: Exel Lockport, Lockport, New York
  • Small Business Honorable Mention: Command Packaging, Vernon, California
  • Mid-Size Business Winner: Madison Precision Products, Madison, Indiana
  • Large Business Winner: Commonwealth Edison Company, Terrace, Illinois
  • Large Business Honorable Mention: Rooms to Go, Suwanee, Georgia
  • Very Large Business Winner: Toyota Motor North America, Torrance, California
  • Very Large Business Honorable Mention: Kohl’s Department Stores, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
  • College and University Winner: Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
  • College and University Winner: Clark University, Worchester, Massachusetts
  • Non-profit Organization Winner: Cannon Grange #152, Wilton, Connecticut
  • Endorser Winner: Global Fiberglass Solutions, Inc., Bellevue, Washington

For more information on WasteWise: http://www3.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/smm/wastewise/

For more information on the Food Recovery Challenge: http://www2.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food

Time for the Suits to Join the Sandals in Creating Zero Waste Communities

Read the full story at Waste360.

Waste=Wasted Cash. That’s the first reason many large national companies want to become Zero Waste. Eliminating waste means becoming more efficient and saving money. But there’s more to gain than economic opportunity when a large national business goes for Zero Waste. It’s a chance to generate love and loyalty from consumers, to improve employee engagement, and to toot the company horn as a good environmental steward at a time when that is increasingly a customer value.

The Impact of Pollution Prevention on Toxic Environmental Releases from U.S. Manufacturing Facilities

Matthew Ranson, Brendan Cox, Cheryl Keenan, and Daniel Teitelbaum (2015). “The Impact of Pollution Prevention on Toxic Environmental Releases from U.S. Manufacturing Facilities.” Environmental Science and Technology 49 (21), 12951–12957. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b02367

Abstract: Between 1991 and 2012, the facilities that reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Program conducted 370 000 source reduction projects. We use this data set to conduct the first quasi-experimental retrospective evaluation of how implementing a source reduction (pollution prevention) project affects the quantity of toxic chemicals released to the environment by an average industrial facility. We use a differences-in-differences methodology, which measures how implementing a source reduction project affects a facility’s releases of targeted chemicals, relative to releases of (a) other untargeted chemicals from the same facility, or (b) the same chemical from other facilities in the same industry. We find that the average source reduction project causes a 9–16% decrease in releases of targeted chemicals in the year of implementation. Source reduction techniques vary in effectiveness: for example, raw material modification causes a large decrease in releases, while inventory control has no detectable effect. Our analysis suggests that in aggregate, the source reduction projects carried out in the U.S. since 1991 have prevented between 5 and 14 billion pounds of toxic releases.

Illinois Companies, Organizations Honored for Achievements In Sustainability

Nineteen Illinois companies and organizations were honored October 27 for their demonstrated leadership in implementing sustainable principles and practices. The Governor’s Sustainability Awards, the “Emmy Awards for Sustainability,” were presented by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) during a ceremony in Chicago. ISTC is a unit of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Since 1987, ISTC has presented Governor’s Awards to organizations in Illinois that have demonstrated a commitment to environmental excellence through outstanding and innovative sustainability practices. Any Illinois public or private organization is eligible to apply for the award. Winners are selected through a rigorous process of review and examination by ISTC technical assistance experts.

“Businesses that invest in sustainability drive a thriving Illinois economy by creating jobs and making an investment in our future,” said Governor Rauner. “The Governor’s Sustainability Awards foster sustainable innovation and encourage our public and private sector to build a stronger, more sustainable Illinois.”

Sustainable economic growth is essential to the long-term competitiveness of the state, according to ISTC Director Kevin O’Brien. “These awards demonstrate that you can preserve natural and cultural resources and simultaneously grow your business,” he said. “That is why this award is very critical. It demonstrates it can be done, it’s being done in Illinois, and it is what sets us apart as Illinoisans.”

The complete list of 2015 award winners is listed below.

2015 Governor’s Sustainability Award Winners

  • Abbot Laboratories – Abbot Park
  • Abbie Inc. – North Chicago
  • Argonne National Laboratory – Lemont
  • Caterpillar – Morton Parts Distribution Center
  • Clarke – St. Charles
  • ComEd – Oak Brook Terrace
  • Cook County – Chicago*
  • Golden State Foods Chicago – McCook*
  • Griffith Laboratories – Alsip*
  • Hoffer Plastics Corporation – South Elgin*
  • Illinois Tollway – Downers Grove
  • J.L. Clark – Rockford
  • John G. Shedd Aquarium – Chicago*
  • McHenry County Government – Woodstock*
  • Public Building Commission – Chicago*
  • Saratoga Food Specialties – Bolingbrook*
  • Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corporation – Rochelle*
  • University Housing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign*
  • Western Illinois University – Macomb*

 * Indicates a first-time winner of the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award.

Additional information on the Governor’s Sustainability Awards program, lists of previous winners, and information on technical assistance for Illinois companies and communities are available from the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, One Hazelwood Drive, Champaign, IL 61820, phone (217) 333-8940, http://www.istc.illinois.edu/

To Request Photos of Winning Teams, please contact jdexter@illinois.edu

When are Recyclability and Zero Waste the Wrong Goals?

Read the full story at Waste360.

For three thoughtful days recently in Indianapolis, my colleagues and I became immersed in the language, implications and policy challenges of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) evolving Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) initiative.

Formally introduced back in 2009 in its publication “Sustainable Materials Management: the Road Ahead,” the EPA has recently hinted that its efforts are becoming more serious. The current name change to its perennial report on municipal solid waste (MSW) characterization and composition now titled, “Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures,” is an example.

Starting with its decidedly difficult acronym, SMM is often misconstrued to be something other than intended. It isn’t neatly pigeon holed, but crosses barriers, traditional roles and hierarchies. To say that our group’s initial grasp of sustainable materials management was strained would not be an exaggeration. After all, SMM takes some of the self-righteous notions, to which the waste and recycling industry have been taught to subscribe, and turns them slightly askew.

You see, as honorable as our intentions might be, we’re being asked to accept that our efforts in planning for recyclability, diversion and waste management can be misplaced goals, under certain circumstances. In fact, those very aspirations can create roadblocks for other more comprehensive sustainable solutions to arrest our insatiable consumption of resources.

One Scientist’s Hopeful View On How to Repair the Planet

Read the full story at Yale Environment360.

Ecological crises may be piling up in a seemingly hopeless cascade, but Swedish scientist Johan Rockström says the next few decades offer an unparalleled opportunity to undo the damage.