Grants Programs

The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) is the only private, grant making institution with a national and international scope whose sole mission is to support solid waste research and education initiatives. Our research grants program is led by our Research Council, a body of volunteers consisting of technical experts in industry, academia and consulting. Non-research oriented projects are reviewed and recommended to the Board’s Projects Committee by technical staff. 

For a description of current and previously funded projects please refer to the “Funded Research” section.

General Request for Proposals - Research in Sustainable Solid Waste Management

To respond to this solicitation, please download the formal RFP for instructions and submittal criteria.  Submissions of scientific research proposals related to sustainable solid waste management practices are invited in the following areas:

  1. Waste minimization
  2. Recycling
  3. Waste conversion to energy, biofuels, chemicals or other useful products. This includes, but is not limited to, the following technologies:
    • Waste-to-energy
    • Anaerobic digestion
    • Composting
    • Other thermal or biological conversion technologies
  4. Strategies to promote diversion to higher and better uses (e.g. organics diversion, market analysis, optimized material management, logistics, etc.)
  5. Landfilling

Desirable aspects of the above topics, in addition to or as part of hypothesis driven applied research, also include:

  • economic or cost/benefit analyses,
  • feasibility studies for untested technologies or management strategies,
  • life cycle analysis or inventory, and
  • analyses of policies that relate to the above (e.g. extended producer responsibility, recycling goals, carbon legislation, bottle bills, etc).

Proposals submitted in response to this RFP that do not address a specific research focus area as given in the RFP will not be reviewed. Projects and research previously funded by the Foundation can be viewed by clicking here

There are two annual deadlines for solicited proposal submissions:
    January 8
    July 15

Note that these dates are standing deadlines and will not change from year to year.

Proposals will be accepted starting from 10 days prior to the deadline date and up to the close of business (5:00 p.m. eastern time) on the deadline date. If not received by this time, proposals will not be considered. If any of the above dates fall on a weekend, then the deadline will be the Monday following the due date.

Educational Projects

One of EREF’s primary focal areas within its mission is to provide education. Thus, EREF welcomes collaborations or partnerships with entities seeking to develop educational materials for sustainable solid waste management, including conferences or events, which advance the foundation’s educational mission. At this time, educational projects are typically conducted with EREF being a primary stakeholder/partner and with the goal to develop a revenue model that, at least, covers expenses for the project. Grants are typically not provided to support the development of educational projects. Thus, concepts for educational projects should NOT be submitted as a proposal. Rather, please contact EREF at (919) 861-6876 ext. 102 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to discuss the concept. Please share or be prepared to share: (i) a description of how the concept is unique or provides a value-add to the solid waste field, (ii) how EREF might be included as a partner/stakeholder, and (iii) how it relates to EREFs mission.


EREF does not discriminate against any parties for any reason responding to this request for proposals. Proposals will be accepted from outside the U.S. and from non-academic institutions provided the principal investigators are well-qualified to conduct the research. While post-doctoral personnel can be listed on a submitted proposal, they cannot be listed as a principal investigator. Graduate students are not eligible to submit a proposal to the program and students interested in funding should consider applying to EREF’s scholarship program (click here for more information).

Funding Limits and Restrictions

Previously awarded grants have ranged from $15,000 to over $500,000 with the average grant being amount being $160,000.

Multiple Proposal Submissions
Proposal submissions are limited to one submission per primary Principal Investigator (PI), however a (PI) may be on multiple proposals if it is demonstrated that it will not affect his or her ability to fulfill the scope of work in the primary investigation.

Repeat Submittals
For proposals submitted that were not funded in a prior round, EREF will accept up to 2 additional repeat submittals for a particular proposal. After the 3rd submittal, the proposal will be deemed ineligible for funding and additional submittals will be denied unless EREF staff grants an exception. In the event a research topic is very closely related to a prior submittal by the same entity, EREF staff will make any determinations regarding whether or not a submitted proposal constitutes a re-submittal.

Overhead Costs
EREF will not pay indirect or overhead costs in excess of 25%.

It is EREF policy that any results from funded projects are made publicly available to all who are interested without bias. Thus, EREF will typically avoid funding proposals prepared with the following aims:

  • To directly commercialize and/or patent a particular technology or process
  • To provide venture capital or operating funds for start-up companies
  • To provide funds that primarily aid in the formation or initialization of community programs (e.g. recycling programs, re-use projects, etc)
  • To directly support lobbying activities
  • To fund conferences or events, except as noted below under “Educational Projects”
  • To conduct research or evaluations with an extremely narrow scope.  Examples include projects that impact a small portion of the solid waste stream, benefit a single entity or community, or that cover a very small geographical area (e.g. a single county or town).

Cost Sharing

Because the amount of funding for research is limited, EREF encourages submitting parties to form partnerships with other funding sources (real-dollars or in-kind services). Parties should identify the sources and amounts of external funding in their submissions. It is preferred that real dollars from external sources be managed through EREF rather than going to the research institution directly. Thus, proposals submitted that include cost-sharing should discuss how external funds and in-kind services will be managed.


All proposals shall be submitted electronically in Microsoft Word® or in portable document format (PDF) following the criteria provided. Electronic submittals must be in a single document or PDF. Multiple files will not be accepted.

If a full electronic submittal is not possible, the submitter must contact the foundation before sending a hard copy.

Submittals and questions related to proposals should be directed to:

Bryan F. Staley, Ph.D., P.E.
President and Chief Executive Officer
919.861.6876 ext. 102
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)