ISTC Technical Assistance Program seeks project partner for USDA composting and food waste reduction grant

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (OUAIP) recently released a funding opportunity announcement for their Composting and Food Waste Reduction (CFWR) cooperative agreements. Applications are due by September 1, 2022.

This program provides financial assistance to municipalities, school districts, counties, local governments, or tribal governments (State-designated Indian Tribes, Federally Recognized Indian Tribal Governments) for composting and food waste reduction pilot programs. While applicants are encouraged to submit proposals that meet more than one of the objectives below (inclusion of multiple objectives will be considered when ranking proposals), OUAIP will accept proposals that address at least one of the following:

  • Generate compost
  • Increase access to compost for agricultural producers
  • Reduce reliance on, and limit the use of, fertilizer
  • Improve soil quality
  • Encourage waste management and permaculture business development
  • Increase rainwater absorption
  • Reduce municipal food waste; and
  • Divert residential and commercial food waste from landfills.

In addition to meeting one or more of the above purposes applicants are encouraged to align their project proposals to address priorities on environmental justice, racial equity, climate, investment in disadvantaged communities, and climate smart agricultural practices. Priority will be given for each of the following elements that are included in a project:

  • Anticipate or demonstrate economic benefits for the targeted community;
  • Incorporate plans to make compost easily accessible to agricultural producers, including community gardeners, school gardens, and producers;
  • Integrate food waste reduction strategies, including innovative food recovery efforts such as, but not limited to, food gleaning, storage, and preservation techniques; and
  • Include a robust plan that describes collaboration with multiple partners.

Eligible entities should collaborate with two or more partner organizations on their CFWR pilot project. Non-eligible entities may be partners on a project.

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) seeks an eligible organization to be the lead applicant on a collaborative proposal. ISTC’s Technical Assistance Program (TAP) staff will provide support on the cooperative agreement through zero waste technical assistance, education, and outreach. Contact TAP to learn more about this partnership opportunity.

House subcommittee members urge ‘complementary’ recycling efforts but differ on new plastics

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

During a House subcommittee hearing Thursday, lawmakers discussed how to balance enacting effective recycling solutions with protecting business interests and supply chains.

The Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change members discussed four bills that represent varied approaches to tackling longtime recycling hurdles, saying there is “no time to waste” on reducing litter and boosting recycling rates. Infrastructure improvements, data collection, access to recycling in rural or low-income areas and efforts to reduce some plastic production and use are among the strategies they addressed. 

In light of EPA court ruling, new focus on states’ power

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

The U.S. Supreme Court limited the power of the federal government to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. But its ruling didn’t touch the power of the states.

That’s putting a renewed focus on efforts across the country to limit the reliance on power plants that spew planet-warming emissions into the air. While Democratic states have taken the lead on the most aggressive climate policy in recent years, some Republican-led states are also helping shift the U.S. power grid toward cleaner sources of energy.

City agencies fail to intervene before three older women die in uncooled apartment building

Read the full story from the Better Government Association.

A half dozen calls for help from a Rogers Park apartment complex went unheeded by city officials last month amid the season’s first heat wave that killed three senior tenants, a Better Government Association investigation found.

That’s because city officials say there was nothing they could do, given the lack of city laws to require landlords to cool their buildings during heat waves.

One alderwoman who visited the site two days before the deaths said she immediately joined the chorus of people trying to persuade building managers to turn off the heat and to turn on the air conditioning — all to no avail.

How fashion giants recast plastic as good for the planet

Read the full story from the New York Times.

An influential system overseen by retailers and clothing makers ranks petroleum-based synthetics like “vegan leather” as more environmentally sound than natural fibers.

Assessing the Impact of Fairtrade on Poverty Reduction and Economic Resilience through Rural Development

Download the document.

Fairtrade Germany and Fairtrade Austria commissioned Mainlevel Consulting to implement an applied research project that aims at identifying the contribution of Fairtrade on poverty reduction through rural development.

The research assesses Fairtrade’s contribution across four different sustainability dimensions – economic resilience, social wellbeing, good governance and environmental integrity. The case study model compares Fairtrade certified and non-certified small-scale producer organizations of three products in three settings: cocoa in Central Ghana, bananas in Northern Peru, and coffee in Central Peru.

It represents the third study within a decade (first in 2012, second in 2018) with the same Fairtrade certified producer organizations, providing rare insights into the organizations’ development and experiences over time.

Google Maps now helps you find fresh air

Read the full story at The Verge.

Google Maps on both iOS and Android has a new Air Quality layer that can be useful when planning your next hike or bike ride in good times, or to plan your escape from smog and smoke in bad.

The new layer displays an Air Quality Index (AQI) overlay directly onto the map grid using government data gathered from agencies like the EPA in the US to show how healthy the air is in general. Better yet, it also presents data collected from PurpleAir’s network of sensors to report hyperlocal conditions at the street level. Clicking on the AQI readings dotted around Google Maps provides more information on the health impact of the air quality, time and source of the last reading, and links to learn more.

Invasive insect that kills grapes could reach California wine region by 2027

Read the full story from North Carolina State University.

The spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect that can kill grapevines and damage other crops, has a chance of first reaching the wine-producing counties of California in five years, according to a new analysis from North Carolina State University researchers.

Chicago beaches bear brunt of climate change, erosion as Lake Michigan levels fluctuate

Read the full story from WTTW.

Chicago’s beaches are bearing the brunt of fluctuating lake levels and worsening erosion. 

This, as Lake Michigan levels drop, following two years of record highs.

The Chicago Tribune did a deep dive into the issue this weekend as the city looks to take action to address repairs that are needed on Chicago’s lakefront. 

Casey Sebetto, coastal resilience specialist for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Management Program and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Prairie Research Institute, says lake levels are cyclical in nature, but the extent to which lake levels have fluctuated is significant.

Of green thumbs, recycling and robots

Read the full story from the Archdiocese of Miami.

Students from Little Flower School in Hollywood have been working to make their school and community greener.

During the school’s annual Academic Showcase on May 18, 2022, they showed family and friends the STEM (acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) projects they had been working on to reach that goal.