Day: March 9, 2021

ISTC Technical Assistance Program collaborates to connect surplus food with hunger relief agencies

The University of Illinois, Feeding Illinois, the Illinois Specialty Growers Association, and the Illinois Farm Bureau are collaborating to collect and collate information on the locations, types, and quantities of “surplus” specialty crops in Illinois, including potential acquisition costs.

Through a producer survey, a series of focus groups, and implementation of pilots across the state, the team looks to uncover the optimal mix of incentives and program interventions to overcome the current barriers to efficient flows getting of fresh food produced in Illinois to Illinois residents with as little waste as possible.

Illinois producers can support these efforts by completing the survey. It takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Request to have a a hard copy of the survey mailed to you by contacting ISTC’s Technical Assistance Program (TAP).

For additional information, assistance with survey completion, or to participate in the upcoming focus groupsplease contact TAP.

Read more about the project on the ISTC Blog and the project factsheet.

The Texas Blackout and Preparing for the Past

Read the full story at the Honest Broker Newsletter.

One lesson of the Texas energy crisis is surely a need to make infrastructure robust to the past in order to better prepare for the future

PFAS is in fish and wildlife. Researchers prowl Michigan for clues

Read the full story at Michigan Radio.

High levels of the “forever chemicals” in Oscoda Township, the result of firefighting foam used on the now-shuttered Wurtsmith Air Force Base, make the Lake Huron community one of Michigan’s most contaminated sites. Along with deer, state officials warn against eating fish and any other aquatic or semi-aquatic animal that lives in the marsh.

Novolex Adding Labeling to Plastic Products to Boost ‘Store Drop-off’ Recycling

Novolex announced today that it is adding easy-to-understand recycling instructions to more of its plastic bags and packaging. The announcement comes just weeks after Novolex revealed plans to increase its capacity to recycle plastic bags.

Novolex, an industry leader in packaging and foodservice products, will add the How2Recycle® Store Drop-off label to products across its business units. These include products from Shields® such as poly mailers for shipping applications and security bags frequently used in the banking industry; and products from Hilex®, including the iconic “Thank You” plastic T-shirt bags, produce bags for conventional and organic items, and the Load & Seal™ Tamper Evident Deliver Bags, which are growing in demand as to-go orders increase at restaurants.

Novolex is a member of How2Recycle, a program created by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition to clearly communicate recycling instructions to the public. The program offers standardized labels that provide clear, concise and consistent instructions for how to recycle each product.

“Increased consumer knowledge is key for the success of recycling, and we are proud to partner with the How2Recycle program to help accomplish that,” said Erik Gonring, Director of Sustainability of Novolex. “People want to do their part for the environment, and labeling our products is one more way to help everyone recycle successfully. Better consumer messaging is one more step towards achieving a circular model for film products.”

In October, Novolex announced that it is investing in a new water treatment system that will increase its capacity to recycle plastic retail bags and other films collected through store drop-off programs. Novolex expects this investment to increase recycling capacity by more than 500,000 pounds per year.

The Novolex recycling center in North Vernon, Ind. processes plastics collected through a North American network of store drop-off collection points, commonly found at grocery stores and other retailers. Consumers can bring back plastic retail bags as well as other select bags and film, including produce bags, bread bags and newspaper bags. Novolex manufactures plastic bags from recycled films collected through store drop-off recycling programs.

To learn more about Novolex and its many products, visit

About Novolex
Novolex develops and manufactures diverse packaging and food service products that touch nearly every aspect of daily life for multiple industries ranging from grocery, food packaging, restaurant and retail to medical applications and building supplies. The Novolex family of brands provides customers innovative paper and plastic solutions for their business needs today while investing in research and development to engineer more sustainable choices for the future. With more than 10,000 employee families, Novolex operates 56 manufacturing centers and administrative offices in North America and Europe, including two world-class plastic film recycling facilities. To learn more about Novolex, visit

CLEAN Future Act leads possible string of bills linking recycling issues to climate efforts

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

A new bill in Congress, meant to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, names numerous waste and recycling efforts to help reach that goal, including some strategies outlined in other bills expected to make a comeback this year.

The Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act, introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), includes measures such as establishing post-consumer recycled content standards for certain products, standardizing recycling labels and creating multiple grant programs. 

Webinar: Part II: Best Practices for Reducing Fugitive Emissions from Ammonia Refrigeration Systems used in the Food and Beverage Sector

Mar 17, 2021 1-2 pm CDT
Register here.

In this webinar, the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) will highlight a best practices guidance document as part of their recently completed food and beverage pollution prevention work funded under EPA Region 5’s Pollution Prevention (P2) Grant Program.

The objective of the webinar is to provide attendees with:

  1. Principles of refrigerant inventory determination for industrial ammonia refrigeration systems;
  2. The application of refrigeration system inventory determination for dynamically tracking refrigerant losses from systems that would otherwise go undetected; and
  3. Applicable industry standards for managing refrigerant additions to ammonia systems.

Applications of these methods are intended to help food and beverage plants as well as large food distribution facilities reduce their “consumption” of ammonia in an effort to achieve P2 goals.


  • Douglas Reindl, Ph.D., P.E., Professor UW-Madison & Director of the Industrial Refrigeration Consortium
  • Marc Claas, Researcher, UW-Madison’s Industrial Refrigeration Consortium

Webinar: Introducing EPA’s Benchmarking & Building Performance Standards Policy Toolkit

March 17, 2021, 11am-noon
Register here.

Are you a state or local decision maker interested in exploring policies to reduce the energy and carbon footprints of your existing buildings? Join this webinar to learn about EPA’s new Benchmarking & Building Performance Standards Policy Toolkit. This Toolkit aims to inform and support state and local governments who are exploring adopting policies focused on reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from existing commercial and multifamily buildings in their communities. The Toolkit offers an overview of building energy benchmarking and transparency; an overview of building performance standards; opportunities for cross-jurisdictional coordination including between state and local governments; and strategies for ensuring solutions are in place that provide access to utility data. EPA experts will walk through the Toolkit, provide an overview of key considerations for policy design, and describe opportunities for EPA technical assistance and further resources, including information on using EPA’S ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® tool as a backbone of program implementation.

EPA Speakers

  • Carolyn Snyder, Division Director, Climate Protection Partnerships Division
  • Cassandra Kubes, State and Local Energy and Environment Program
  • Caterina Hatcher, ENERGY STAR State & Local Government and Higher Education Team
  • Brendan Hall, ENERGY STAR State & Local Government and Higher Education Team

U.S. Department of Energy Announces $52.5 Million to Support U.S. Manufacturers and Industrial Workers

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $52.5 million for DOE’s Industrial Assessment Centers that help American manufacturers and wastewater treatment facilities improve their efficiency, save money, and reduce their carbon footprint. These university-based training programs also create a pipeline for students looking to join the growing clean energy economy.

“These programs are proof that big climate investments can help small businesses reduce their emissions and increase their efficiency, while saving them thousands of dollars,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “This new funding is an investment in both the infrastructure and next-generation clean energy workforce we need to tackle the climate emergency and meet President Biden’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

The funding will be distributed through DOE’s Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs), which are university-based programs that train students and offer no-cost efficiency improvement recommendations to small- and medium-sized manufacturing facilities. As part of the assessment process, participating students and faculty make recommendations for energy and water savings, waste reduction, productivity improvements, cybersecurity, and smart manufacturing opportunities for qualifying facilities—all while measuring their impact on greenhouse gas emissions. To date, the IAC program has provided nearly 20,000 assessments and more than 145,000 recommendations for improvement measures. Assessments typically identify more than $130,000 in potential annual savings opportunities.

IACs selected for this funding will offer coursework and hands-on experience for undergraduate and graduate engineering students in industrial processes, energy-assessment procedures, and energy-management systems. These programs have a strong track record of attracting engineering students to the energy efficiency workforce—more than 50% of graduates’ first jobs include energy efficiency as a primary responsibility, and more than 40% of graduates spend their career in energy efficiency, compared to 28% of their peers who do not participate in the program.

Founded in 1976, the IAC program is one of the Department’s longest-running programs. The program pursues two simultaneous goals: (1) supporting U.S. manufacturing competitiveness; and, (2) addressing a growing shortage of engineering professionals with applied energy and manufacturing-related skills. The IAC program provides assessment to small- and medium-sized manufacturers/enterprises (SMEs), defined as having gross annual sales below $100 million and fewer than 500 employees. The IAC program also screens for SMEs with yearly energy bills between $100,000 and $3.5 million.

As a part of this funding opportunity, DOE will also launch a pilot project to expand IAC engagement with underserved communities. Applicants are encouraged to propose training partnerships with technical programs or community colleges that create new opportunities for a diverse mix of students, of all education levels.

DOE anticipates selecting 25 to 35 universities, with individual awards of $1.5 to $2.25 million over five years. The deadline for optional letters of intent is April 1, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. ET. Mandatory full applications are due on April 22, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. ET.

For more information, eligibility requirements, and instructions on submitting an application, view the complete funding opportunity announcement. Potential applicants may also view a recording of a recent informational webinar on IAC operations.

The Advanced Manufacturing Office, housed within DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), manages the IAC program’s 31 current centers. EERE’s Building Technologies Office will collaborate on the pilot project for commercial building efficiency workforce development.

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