Day: August 29, 2011

Grants from the IDNR Division of Education

The IDNR Division of Education is working in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and the Illinois Conservation Foundation to expand the Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant program. Due to this partnership, DNR is increasing the maximum available funds per Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant application to $1,000. The Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant program provides funds to establish or enhance wildlife habitat on the school grounds or other public place and is available to teachers, youth group leaders and nature center personnel.  Butterfly gardens, rain gardens, prairie plots and wetlands are just some of the projects that qualify. Visit to access the application form.

The Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grant program can provide funding for you and your students to visit the natural wonders of our state.  Teachers may apply for up to $500 to be applied toward transportation and substitute teacher costs. You’ll find the complete instructions and application form at

Best Buy Wants Your E-Waste, Please

Read the full post from Matter Network.

A new program is underway to keep unwanted and old electronics out of landfills. Thrown-out electronics, or “e-waste,” can be recycled, but 1.5 million tons of e-waste goes into landfills across the country each year anyway. To combat this, and to encourage environmental awareness,–a social advocacy group geared for teens and young adults–Best Buy and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Energy Star Progam created the E-Waste Drive, where teens collect unwanted or broken electronics for recycling.

MIT researchers examine flight of e-waste

Read the full story in Waste & Recycling News.

When researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studied trash and where it ended up in 2009, one particular waste stream stood out to them: electronic waste.

“E-waste turned out to be very different in its disposal and process,” said MIT project leader Dietmar Offenhuber. “E-waste had much longer distances [to travel for disposal] than all other waste types that we looked at.”

So the researchers recently embarked on a follow-up to the original study. They found 500 volunteers in the Seattle area and tracked their e-waste from initial disposal. Participants were able to dispose of their e-waste in any fashion they sought fit.

However, the tracking devices implanted onto the e-waste had limited-battery life and the signal was relayed back to Boston from a cell phone, so items that left the country were unable to be tracked much farther than the United States border.

Apple Reboots E-waste Recycling Program

Read the full post at EarthTechling.

Apple recently rolled out several enhancements to its electronics reuse and recycling program designed to help customers dispose of their unwanted electronics in a convenient and responsible manner.

Apple’s new recycling guidelines appear to be refreshingly simple and customer-friendly. You can now send Apple your old iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC for reuse or recycling. If the computing device has any monetary value, Apple will send you a gift card for its fair market value for use at any Apple retail store or their online store.  If you simply want to dispose of unwanted computers or displays – regardless of brand –  call 877-712-2405 to receive a free prepaid shipping label. Then pack up your equipment using your own box and send it off.

Presentation slides: Local Government’s Role in the Product Stewardship Movement

Download the slides developed by Katherine Bourbeau of the New York Product Stewardship Council. Presentation gives an overview of product stewardship and extended producer responsibility, explains the benefits of EPR, and suggests actions that local governments can take.


Fact sheet for Australian Product Stewardship Act of 2011

Download the fact sheet.

The Product Stewardship Act 2011 will help reduce waste and prevent harmful materials from ending up in landfill by increasing recycling and the recovery of valuable materials from products.

All levels of government, industry and the community have a shared responsibility for the impacts of the products we manufacture, consume and dispose of in the course of going about our daily lives. Not only is there an ever‐increasing array of products for us to choose from, many of these also have a short product life, making them a significant and growing component of the waste stream.

Whether they contain substances that may be harmful to the environment, or valuable materials that can be reclaimed and re‐used, there is good reason to ensure that we handle these products in a safe and environmentally responsible way…

Product stewardship is a key commitment under the Australian Government’s long‐term National Waste Policy to avoid and reduce the amount of waste generated and increase the amount of resources recovered from end‐of‐life products.

More information on the Product Stewardship Act 2011 and the National Television and Computer Product Stewardship Scheme can be found on the department’s website at:



Expert encourages firms to embrace producer responsibility

Read the full story in Plastics News.

Extended producer responsibility may be as many as five to 10 years from becoming a reality in the United States, if it even occurs by then.

But manufacturers, retailers and brand owners in the U.S. should look to embrace EPR now as it can benefit them with more recycled materials and a stronger sustainability footprint because it would improve the nation’s current ineffective recycling infrastructure, says Scott Cassel, executive director and founder of the Product Stewardship Institute Inc.

60-watt LED bulb to break $15 mark, Lighting Science says

Read the full post at CNET.

Lighting Science Group and Dixon Technologies India today touted an LED light bulb equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent that they say will hit store shelves with a price below $15.

The omnidirectional LED bulb, in the traditional A19 shape of household incandescent light bulbs, will become available in India by the end of the year and worldwide, including in the U.S., early in 2012, the companies said. It’s the first in an expected series of products, including streetlights and industrial fixtures, that Lighting Science and Dixon plan to jointly manufacture and distribute.

Biochar and Energy from Trees Research (BETR) Project

Download the project summary.

Much of the past and current wealth from regional Australia has been based on the removal of our original native vegetation and replacing it with crops and improved pastures. This has created great agricultural and pastoral industries, but also greatly altered our rural landscapes, contributing to erosion, salinity and loss of wildlife. We have spent a lot of time over the last two decades of Landcare fixing these symptoms of over-clearing, but there is still a long way to go. A major barrier to doing more is that restoring native vegetation is expensive and it reduces the potential to derive an income from the land involved.

What would happen if a diversity of native vegetation were to become a profit centre? That is exactly what this project is working on, new opportunities to tap into emerging markets based on the services provided by native vegetation – what we have called ’Bio-4’ – Biodiversity, Bioenergy, Biosequestration and Biochar.

Biochar reduces the bioavailability and phytotoxicity of heavy metals

Jin Hee Park, Girish Kumar Choppala, Nanthi Sirangie Bolan, Jae Woo Chung and Thammared Chuasavathi (2011). “Biochar reduces the bioavailability and phytotoxicity of heavy metals.” Plant and Soil, online before print. DOI: 10.1007/s11104-011-0948-y.


Background and aims  

Biochar has attracted research interest due to its ability to increase the soil carbon pool and improve crop productivity. The objective of this study was to evaluate the metal immobilizing impact of chicken manure- and green waste-derived biochars, and their effectiveness in promoting plant growth.


The immobilization and phytoavailability of Cd, Cu and Pb was examined using naturally contaminated shooting range and spiked soils. Biochar samples prepared from chicken manure and green waste were used as soil amendments.


Application of biochar significantly reduced NH4NO3 extractable Cd, Cu and Pb concentrations of soils, indicating the immobilization of these metals. Chicken manure-derived biochar increased plant dry biomass by 353 and 572% for shoot and root, respectively with 1% of biochar addition. This might be attributed to reduced toxicity of metals and increased availability of nutrients such as P and K. Both biochars significantly reduced Cd, Cu and Pb accumulation by Indian mustard (Brassica juncea), and the reduction increased with increasing amount of biochar application except Cu concentration. Metal sequential fractionation data indicated that biochar treatments substantially modified the partitioning of Cd, Cu and Pb from the easily exchangeable phase to less bioavailable organic bound fraction.


The results clearly showed that biochar application was effective in metal immobilization, thereby reducing the bioavailability and phytotoxicity of heavy metals.

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