Q&A: Food waste reduction strategies and tips from industry professionals

Read the full story at Waste360.

Continuing our Q&A’s with members of the Federal Food Loss and Waste Reduction Initiatives panel at WasteExpo, Waste360 was able to reach out and ask some questions to Jean Buzby and Priya Kadam.

Buzby works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a USDA Food Loss and Waste Liaison and Kadam is a Senior Advisor for Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

EPA seeks feedback on its new interactive recycling market mapping tool

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

The U.S. EPA is seeking feedback on its new interactive Recycling Infrastructure and Market Opportunities Map in an effort to make the nationwide mapping tool more complete, accurate and easier to use.

The first iteration of the map includes locations of MRFs, composters, anaerobic digesters, transfer stations, secondary processing facilities, e-scrap facilities and other infrastructure. It also provides data on per capita generation and recycling for 16 material types, as well as other information on market influences such as bottle bills.

The EPA sees potential for its tool to be a “comprehensive resource” for visualizing and mapping postconsumer markets and infrastructure, but it says it needs more input on what additional details will make the map more functional for the industry. It will take comments through June 26.

EPA Tools & Resources Training Webinar: PFAS Analytic Tools

Jun 1, 2023, 2-3 pm CDT
Register here.

To support EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap, EPA is compiling and integrating a collection of data that can be used to evaluate what is known about PFAS manufacture, release, and occurrence in communities. As part of this effort, EPA is integrating data available nationally with other information from states, Tribes, and localities that are testing for PFAS pursuant to their own regulatory or voluntary data collection initiatives. The data included in the PFAS Analytic Tools have a wide range of location-specific data and, in general, are based on national scope and readily accessible, public information repositories.

The PFAS Analytic Tools make it easier to evaluate the collective PFAS information from 11 different databases – the application integrates these datasets into an interactive, web-based software. Consolidating all these data sources in one searchable platform will help the public, researchers, and other stakeholders better understand potential PFAS sources in their communities, including potential exposure pathways in communities with environmental justice concerns.

This training webinar will provide an overview of the PFAS Analytic Tools and a tutorial on how to use them.

Utilities need investments to decarbonize — investors need accountability

Read the full story from the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Although investor demand for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) funds has been both strong and resilient in recent years, the ESG sector is not without its shortcomings. Climate-conscious investors often struggle to evaluate the specific objectives and intended impacts of ESG-labeled funds, which can vary widely. Even after careful evaluation, investors could be allocating capital to funds that leave out a transition-critical sector, one that will require large amounts of investment to support economy-wide electrification: electric utilities. In order to build out the clean energy resources necessary to pivot away from fossil energy production, without compromising reliability or burdening ratepayers, the utility sector will need much more capital, not less.

With the right metrics and engagement support, climate-conscious investors can offer electricity providers both the funds and the accountability needed to cut carbon pollution sufficiently to limit global warming to 1.5C over pre-industrial levels. RMI is developing a new platform to help investors, whether ESG-focused or not, become a conduit for real utility transition at scale.

SLOPE platform puts clean energy job growth insights into hands of decision makers

Read the full story from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Did you know there is potential for more than 1.6 million new jobs to be created across America by the year 2030 to help build the country’s clean energy future?

Of those 1.6 million jobs, some of the highest rates of job growth can be expected to come from Alaska, Wyoming, and Nevada. The states of California, Florida, and Texas will have the most job potential overall due to higher working-age populations.

Insights such as those are now available through the State and Local Planning for Energy (SLOPE) Platform, a free online energy planning tool developed collaboratively between the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Online tool estimates nitrogen availability for crop fields

by Lisa Sheppard, Prairie Research Institute

With high corn crop yields in mind, Illinois farmers sometimes apply mid-season nitrogen fertilizer to supplement the early-season applications that may have been partly washed away with spring rains. An atmospheric scientist at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) is perfecting his online and Android app decision-support tool that helps farmers schedule applications based on real-time nitrogen availability in local soils.

With frequent rains in the spring, farmers face uncertainty about the amount of nitrogen lost from fields, particularly as precipitation becomes heavier and severe storms are more prevalent in Illinois.

“Oftentimes, farmers over apply fertilizer to their cornfields, especially during heavy rain seasons,” said Junming Wang at the ISWS, a unit of the Prairie Research Institute. “I wanted to design a smart farm tool and app for farmers to use optimal but not excessive nitrogen so costs and water pollution can be reduced.”

The NTrack tool lessens this uncertainty by estimating real-time soil nitrogen availability. With hourly local weather data from the National Weather Service and soil data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) soil database, the tool simulates corn growth, crop nitrogen uptake, and nitrogen losses. Users of the tool provide some crop management inputs, including their location, corn cultivar being used, planting date, and previous fertilizer application date. For location, users can click on a Google map.

As a result, farmers receive an email with a time series of soil nitrogen concentrations at two depths, 0 to 1 and 1 to 2 feet, over the requested period. The results include a graph of soil nitrogen availability as it changes during the simulation period.

The online tool can provide timely information, helping farmers to better understand how changing weather conditions and crop management practices affect soil nitrogen availability, and informing management decisions on whether to apply additional nitrogen during the growing season. 

As Wang and University of Illinois colleagues improve the NTrack tool, they hope to add components including crop rotation information, tile drainage flow and nutrient losses, and soil phosphorus availability. They also plan to extend the Android app to the Apple IOS system. Adding tile drainage information can provide a clearer picture of how quickly excess rainfall drains from the fields and into lakes and streams.

The online tool is available at http://rsetserver.sws.uiuc.edu/ntrack/. For the Android app, contact Wang at wangjim@illinois.edu.

This story originally appeared on the Prairie Research Institute News Blog. Read the original article.

ResearchBuzz Search Gizmos

Tara Calashain, who writes the incredibly useful blog ResearchBuzz, has launched a new service called Search Gizmos, a suite of JavaScript gizmos to help you target your searches in specific ways. There are 57 available as of April 17 and new ones are added frequently.

Some examples include:

Go give them a test drive.

Breaking Down the Inflation Reduction Act. Program by Program. Incentive by Incentive.

Download the tool.

This spreadsheet was built off of the list of Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funding programs published by the White House as a complement to its IRA Guidebook.

The Inflation Reduction Act is the biggest investment in clean energy and climate solutions in American history, so it can be hard to keep track of everything in it. This spreadsheet breaks down the funding opportunities in the bill in a way that allows a variety of users to easily find out which IRA programs and tax incentives can benefit them.

In particular, this spreadsheet was developed for use by:

  • State and local/municipal governments
  • Tribal Nations
  • Businesses
  • Non-profits
  • Institutions of higher education
  • Individual consumers

The spreadsheet uses, as a start, the list of IRA funding programs published by the White House (“federal summary”) as a complement to its IRA Guidebook. It builds off this federal summary by increasing the ability of users to sort and filter funding sources based on criteria such as sector, topic, funding eligibility, and funding type. It also increases the comprehensiveness of the federal summary, including by adding IRA-related tax incentives, and it adjusts certain aspects of the federal summary to make them more up to date and complete.

Training Resources for Tribal Waste Management

EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery recently released a new Tribal Waste Management Training Resources webpage, which was created in partnership with federal and non-federal partners, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Indian Health Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and tribal organizations. These resources are designed to assist tribes with developing and implementing a waste management program.

The materials are organized into six categories:

  • solid and hazardous waste regulations,
  • planning tools,
  • collection and disposal,
  • circular economy,
  • outreach and education and
  • Alaska-specific information.

These free materials include resources from trainings, as well as education and outreach materials that are not a part of any formal training.

Explore the website.

“Curated” climate data, grant assistance can help cities address EJ and climate change concerns

Read the full story at Smart Cities Dive.

Federal agencies are helping local government leaders mitigate climate risk by “curating the data” and providing analytical tools and technical assistance, said Vicki Arroyo, associate administrator for policy at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, during a Brookings Institution webinar on the availability of climate data and how cities can best use it. Three tools Arroyo highlighted were:

  • The U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, a website the EPA designed to help people understand their exposures to climate change impacts, assess vulnerability and risks, investigate options and prioritize, plan and take action. 
  • The Office of Water’s Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool, which helps water sector utilities assess climate-related risks to utility assets and operations, develop scenarios based on the threats, outline potential consequences, catalog critical assets and plan adaptations. Updates are added to these tools, Arroyo said, to address the latest climate concerns.
  • EJScreen, an environmental justice mapping and screening tool that “allows us internally to think about where we are going in targeting our outreach to communities that are overburdened by pollution and are underserved,” she said. 

Many states and local governments now rely on EJScreen to anticipate climate impacts such as wildfire risk, drought, coastal floods and 100-year floods “because they don’t have the resources to do their own EJScreens,” Arroyo added.