EREF Blog

EREF’s New Science Sessions Puts a Conversational Twist on Solid Waste Education

Click here for a PDF of this release.

Raleigh, NC (January 7, 2021) – The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) is excited to announce the inception of a new solid waste education series entitled EREF Science Sessions, which will kick off in mid-January.

In a time when interactions occur primarily online and Zoom fatigue has become a real concern, the Science Sessions aim to provide the content solid waste professionals need in brief, interactive segments lasting around 45 minutes to an hour.

These sessions will take a variety of forms, forgoing the typical presentation/webinar- style and opting for more interactive models such as interviews, panels and Q&A.

The first set of topics centers on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and emerging contaminants. While data and information surrounding the topic abounds, each session aims to bring new content to the table and focus on the role of the waste industry in the PFAS and emerging contaminants conversation.

Currently, 8 sessions have been confirmed with more anticipated to be lined up. Subtopics include:

  • Industry perspectives on PFAS management
  • PFAS policy
  • Management strategies
  • PFAS concentrations in domestic wastewater and leachate
  • Effective leachate treatment methods
  • PFAS stabilization and solidification
  • Exposure and health implications
  • And more to come!

While PFAS is the focus of the initial set of sessions, other topics will be added to the docket later in 2021.

EREF’s first session, entitled In the Room When It Happened: Industry Perspectives on PFAS, will be a panel comprised of Joe Benco (Republic Services), Sam Nicolai (Casella Waste) and David Pepper (GFL Environmental). This session will be held January 21 at 1 pm ET – registration is open!

Visit the EREF website to learn more and register.

Looking for a value-driven way to build your brand awareness? Become a Science Sessions sponsor! Sponsors receive a select amount of attendee spots with their sponsorship. Send an e-mail to events@erefdn.org to sponsor or learn more.

Thank you to our current Science Sessions sponsors, Golder and Republic Services!

EREF is a 501(c)3 class charity that funds and directs scientific research and educational initiatives for waste management practices to benefit industry participants and the communities they serve. For more complete information on EREF funded research, its scholarship program and how to donate to this great cause, visit erefdn.org.

 

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Media Contact:

Catherine Ardoin, Communications Manager

Phone: 919.861.6876 ext. 109

Email: cardoin@erefdn.org

Shopping Online this Holiday Season? Recycle those Cardboard Boxes, Expert Says

recycle cardboard this holidayOnline shoppers can help combat climate change and reduce deforestation by recycling cardboard boxes and other packaging materials this holiday season.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to surge, a growing number of consumers across the country are shopping online this holiday season – a trend that could have severe environmental consequences if packaging materials aren’t properly disposed of.

“Packaging materials, whether they’re made from paper or plastic, are very important because they help protect products,” said Richard Venditti, the Elis-Signe Olsson Professor of Pulp and Paper Science and Engineering at NC State’s College of Natural Resources. “But some of these materials, especially plastics, are still making their way into trash cans instead of recycling bins.”

Venditti, whose areas of expertise include paper recycling and environmental life cycle analysis, added that packaging materials in trash cans are sent to landfills where non-biodegradable materials occupy space for centuries and biodegradable materials break down and release greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

In the United States, more than 95% of the packages shipped to the country’s 200 million online shoppers are sent in containerboard – cardboard and corrugated containers. The use of cardboard and other packaging materials is expected to increase in the coming years as online sales continue to grow, according to Venditti. Between January and November of this year alone, American consumers spent about $547 billion online. That’s an increase of roughly 33% from the same period in 2019.

Several companies are working to reduce packaging waste and find more sustainable alternatives. For example, Amazon – which ships an average of 608 million packages each year – has eliminated more than 665,000 tons of packaging materials and more than 1.18 billion shipping boxes since 2008 through its Frustration-Free Packaging program, which provides consumers with recyclable boxes that are easy-to-open and free of excess materials such as plastic bindings and wire ties.

Venditti said recycling is one of the most efficient methods available for both retailers and consumers to reduce the number of cardboard boxes in the waste stream. It not only conserves energy and natural resources but also helps reduce pollution.

Cardboard, like other paper-based products, is manufactured from cellulose fibers extracted primarily from trees. “Paper and paperboard recycling makes more efficient use of our forest resources and avoids some of the environmental burdens associated with making cardboard from trees,” Venditti said.

More importantly, when consumers recycle packaging, it reduces the amount of cardboard in landfills – and the amount of greenhouse gases that it emits during decomposition. Cardboard packaging that is sent to landfills releases some fugitive methane that is not captured in landfill collections systems. Methane has a global warming potential that’s 20 times higher than carbon dioxide over the course of 100 years. It’s estimated that when consumers recycle 1 ton of cardboard, they save over 9 cubic yards of landfill space.

The percentage of cardboard boxes that Americans recycle has increased from 55% in 1993 to 92% in 2019. The remaining 8% of cardboard boxes is sent to landfills because it’s unsuitable for recycling, since it may be disposed of in remote areas, or contaminated with food or other material, according to Venditti.

“Paper is definitely a success in the materials recycling universe, with recovery rates far higher than plastics or glass and other materials,” Venditti said. “The recycling levels that we’re seeing with these boxes are incredible. But we need people to be more effective in their overall recycling, especially with other materials such as plastics and metals.”

Most Americans have access to community curbside or drop-off recycling for paper and paperboard packaging. But as consumers receive more products directly from online retailers, they’re recycling less and throwing away more. Part of the reason is the confusion over what is recyclable, according to Venditti.

However, while consumer behavior certainly plays a role in the country’s ongoing packaging waste, recycling programs in the U.S. face a bigger challenge. For the past quarter century, the U.S. and other countries around the world have sent a significant portion of their recyclable discards to China for recycling. But in 2018, China implemented strict restrictions on imported waste, including plastic, mixed paper and cardboard. This has left many municipalities and companies with nowhere to send their waste for recycling.

“China was purchasing recyclable materials for rather high prices, but now they’re not buying from us anymore,” Venditti said. “As a result, the price for recycled paper has decreased dramatically. What that means is that collectors and haulers don’t get as much money for their efforts. They’re not going to go the extra mile to collect the fringe materials that are on the borderline of profitability, so now we’re experiencing an excess buildup of waste materials.”

To address this issue, Venditti is spearheading a study that will examine the potential use of low-grade mixed paper waste in cardboard packaging in order to increase demand for recycled materials. The study is funded by the Environmental Research and Education Foundation, a Raleigh-based organization that supports solid waste research and education initiatives.

“A key challenge in the recycling industry is creating end-market demand for lower value/quality recyclables,” said Bryan Staley, president and CEO of the Environmental Research and Education Foundation. “Dr. Venditti’s research aims to strengthen pathways to increase recycled content using these materials. This allows for increased circularity of materials that otherwise would have limited value and improves overall sustainability.”

One of the study’s primary objectives is to better understand consumer impressions of packaging that contains paper waste, according to Venditti.

“Most cardboard boxes are brown with a consistent texture. But we’re using low-grade mixed paper waste to create boxes that have lighter speckles that might be recognizable as copy paper or magazine paper,” he said. “If a consumer sees a box with recycled content on the outside, how does that make them feel? Are they more likely to think that the packaging and therefore the product and company are more environmentally friendly? That’s what we want to know.”

In addition, Venditti and his research team are analyzing how the use of low-grade mixed paper waste impacts the physical properties of cardboard boxes, including strength and durability. Preliminary results show that the physical properties decrease by about 20%. The research team is currently working to compensate for that loss by exploring the addition of recycling process changes and additives.

Initial results from the study will likely be published sometime in 2021. Although the study is funded for 18 months, Venditti expects it to extend into the future as students and colleagues conduct additional research.

“The research, showing the benefits of low quality waste in paper packaging, is expected to demonstrate to companies a green and effective way to protect their products that have the added benefit of projecting a positive image of the product,” he said. “As the population of the world increases and demands for packaging increase, research projects to develop solutions like this one are critical for society.”

Written by Andrew Moore, College of Natural Sciences, NC State University

5 Reasons to Knuckle Down on Your Recycling in 2021

5 reasons to knuckle down on your recycling

 

Do you want to save the world? You don’t have to be an Avenger to make a difference. When you recycle, and recycle right, you help make the world a cleaner, greener place. Below we outline 5 reasons to knuckle down so you can start improving your recycling in 2021.

Contamination costs money (and even other recyclables).

Although you might feel good tossing something into the recycling bin, that good feeling could be short-lived if your discard doesn’t belong there. When you place something in the bin that shouldn’t be there, you create contamination. What does this mean? Often, contamination can lead to increased recycling facility downtime, equipment damage and low-quality or rejected bales. All these consequences of contamination cost operators time and money – a cost passed down to you.

Recycling incorrectly can lead to worker injury.

When incorrect items enter a materials recovery facility (MRF; i.e. a recycling facility), they can create unsafe conditions for workers. Think about the plastic film bags you get at the grocery store. While you may wish that those could be recycled, when they go through the sorter they become tangled, leading to a halt in operations and requiring workers to climb onto equipment to untangle the bags. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, MRF worker injuries and illnesses occur at a rate of 3.6 per 100 full-time employees.

Certain items can cause fires in facilities and collection vehicles.

When your batteries die or your laptop finally gives out, where do you put them? Although a number of products are recyclable, they don’t belong in your recycling bin. In part, this is due to the dangerous conditions they create in a collection vehicle or at a facility. For example, research demonstrates that batteries can cause fires at recycling facilities. In fact, preliminary results from an EREF research survey indicate that 68% of respondents have experienced at least one fire at their facility in the past year.

Forgoing recycling can contribute to greenhouse gases.

The latest data from the EPA indicates that gross U.S. greenhouse gas emissions totaled 6,677 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent – a 2.9% increase from the previous year. However, participation in curbside recycling can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 38% compared to landfilling with energy recovery.

Recycling availability is not an invitation to be wasteful.

A study by Catlin and Wang, 2012, published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, evaluated waste generation when a recycling bin was available. In an office setting, researchers found that the availability of recycling bin resulted in an 82% increase in paper usage. Before grabbing a handful of paper, remember that not all materials can be recycled forever. Each time paper goes through the recycling process, it loses quality and integrity. In fact, paper can only be recycled 5 – 7 times.

There is good news! Now that you know the 5 reasons to knuckle down on your recycling, you can take the steps to start improving your recycling in 2021. Take a moment to educate yourself. Your state and county waste management websites are great resources for more information. See what items belong in your recycling bin and where to recycle items, such as batteries.

Join the Over 250 Respondents Providing Data Related to Scrap and Materials Recovery Facility Fires

Raleigh, NC (November 12, 2020) – The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF), in partnership with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) and the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), requests responses to a survey aiming to understand the frequency and causes of fires at scrap facilities, materials recovery facilities (MRFs) and other facilities.

Currently, EREF has received more than 250 responses from a number of companies, including responses from top waste management companies. EREF seeks to double this response by December 31 and encourages anyone who has not participated in this effort to ensure your facility is counted by contributing data. Data will be presented in a compiled form and individual facility names, addresses and contact information will not be shared.

What do the preliminary findings of this study indicate?

  • 68% of facilities that responded experienced at least one fire within the past year.
  • 97% of respondents have a fire plan and offer training for employees.
  • The most common types of fire prevention strategies implemented by MRFs and scrap facilities include using a portable fire extinguisher, 24-hour remote monitoring and automatic sprinkler systems.

To complete the survey, or for more information, please click here. The survey will close December 31, 2020.

EREF is a 501(c)3 class charity that funds and directs scientific research and educational initiatives for waste management practices to benefit industry participants and the communities they serve. For more complete information on EREF funded research, its scholarship program and how to donate to this great cause, visit erefdn.org.

 

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Media Contact:
Catherine Ardoin, Communications Manager
Phone: 919.861.6876 ext. 109
Email: cardoin@erefdn.org

EREF Awards Two Grants for Solid Waste Research

Click here for a PDF of this release.

Raleigh, NC (October 29, 2020) – The Board of Directors of the Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) are pleased to announce the award of 2 new research grants.

The following projects have been funded in 2020:

Non-Recyclable Plastics to Pavements
Investigator: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Award Amount: $161,075

This research seeks to create high-value and high-volume products from plastic waste for bitumen (asphalt binder) replacement in pavements. The bitumen replacement market is a potential repurposing for large quantities of waste plastics. It addresses an urgent economic and environmental need for plastic recycling as well as the transportation industry. With 4-5% replacement of bitumen, this market has the potential to consume 1 million tons of waste plastics out of the 26 million tons that go to landfills in the US. Also, the study goal is aligned with the global emphasis on enhancing transportation infrastructure sustainability. Moreover, asphalt pavements are 100% recyclable; therefore, plastic waste will remain in a recycling circular loop. Plastic waste that would typically be landfilled will be formulated for incorporation in bitumen that meets performance specifications for durability. Through manipulation of the chemical and molecular composition of waste plastics, current challenges, including sorting and processing of different plastics, storage instability and compatibility between bitumen and various plastics will be addressed.

The objectives of this study are as follows:

  1. Develop compatibility and blending methodology of various plastic waste plastic for bitumen modification.
  2. Investigate the suitability of plastic types and mixed plastics for modifying bitumen.
  3. Determine the storage stability of plastic waste modified bitumen.
  4. Perform chemical and rheological characterization of plastic-modified bitumen.
  5. Quantify environmental benefits using life cycle assessment (LCA) for plastic-modified bitumen.

Techno-Economic Evaluation of Supercritical Water Oxidation
for Landfill Leachate and Condensate Management

Investigator: Duke University
Award Amount: $152,000

Landfill leachate and condensate management can be a major cost of operating a landfill and they are an important contingent liability. For example, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are now found in many landfills and cause great concerns to owners and operators. Supercritical water oxidation (SCWO) is a game-changing treatment technology that could provide superior treatment with better economics. Deshusses’ lab is leading the U.S. in SCWO technology research.

The objectives of this project are to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of using SCWO at landfills by:

  1. Demonstrating treatment of representative landfill leachates, condensates and concentrated liquids, such as leachate reverse osmosis (RO) concentrate, in our pilot 1 ton/day SCWO system with specific focus on PFAS and emerging contaminants.
  2. Conducting a detailed economic analysis of using SCWO at landfills at a larger scale. This will include an early assessment of scale and SCWO system throughout. If this assessment indicates that concentration of leachates and condensates (e.g., using reverse osmosis) followed by SCWO is the preferred route for treatment, the project will focus on treatment of concentrated liquids such as RO leachate concentrates.
  3. Exploring treatment synergies (e.g., hazardous wastes, PFAS contaminated sludge, selected organic wastes) that may be co-treated with leachate/condensate or RO concentrates and that may affect the economic outcome.

Pre-proposals are required prior to submitting a full proposal. EREF invites investigators to submit pre-proposals pertaining to the topics outlined on the “How to Apply for a Grant” page on EREF’s website. The next pre-proposal deadline is December 1, 2020. For more information regarding EREF’s Research Grants Program, please visit erefdn.org or e-mail proposals@erefdn.org.

EREF is a 501(c)3 class charity that funds and directs scientific research and educational initiatives for waste management practices to benefit industry participants and the communities they serve. For more complete information on EREF funded research, its scholarship program and how to donate to this great cause, visit erefdn.org.

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Media Contact:
Catherine Ardoin, Communications Manager
Phone: 919.861.6876 ext. 109
Email: cardoin@erefdn.org

NWRA, EREF Publish ‘Waste & Recycling For Dummies’

Click here for a PDF of this release.

The Book Serves as a Professional and Educational Resource for All.

Raleigh, NC (October 27, 2020) – The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) and the Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) have partnered to produce Waste & Recycling For Dummies, an informative and educational book for industry professionals, government officials, students and consumers.

While many have a basic understanding (or some assumptions) about the waste and recycling industry, NWRA and EREF unveil a clearer picture of how the entire industry works in Waste & Recycling For Dummies, hoping that readers take a look at their own actions and see what they can do to leave the world in a better place than they found it.

As readers turn the pages of the book, they will learn the importance of the industry and how managing waste properly can help protect human health and the environment. Without proper waste management, our air, land and water can become polluted, and our climate can change for the worse. Recycling helps preserve our natural resources for future generations.

“It was important to us to tell the right story about the waste and recycling industry,” said NWRA President and CEO Darrell Smith. “There is a lot of inaccurate information out there, and this book helps address those misunderstandings and provide a detailed look inside the inner workings of our industry. Our industry goes way beyond the curb.”

“The nuances of waste management concepts in many ways are unknown by most and are often overlooked by those not intimately familiar with this industry,” said EREF President and CEO Bryan Staley. “Our hope is to build an interest and understanding of solid waste that encourages consideration of waste that’s produced and discarded.”

This book also includes insights from many industry subject matter experts (SME). NWRA and EREF express their gratitude for the SMEs’ help putting this book together for publication.

Waste & Recycling For Dummies comes in both a digital and print version (note: print copies are limited). To download the e-book, click here. To request a print copy, please contact Mallory Szczepanski at mszczepanski@wasterecycling.org or Catherine Ardoin at cardoin@erefdn.org.

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About NWRA
The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) is the largest trade association representing the private sector waste and recycling services industry. Association members conduct business in all 50 states, and include companies that manage waste, recycling and medical waste, equipment manufacturers and distributors, and a variety of other service providers. For more information about NWRA, please visit www.wasterecycling.org.

Media Contact:
Brandon Wright, Vice President, Communications and Media Relations
443-758-5542
bwright@wasterecycling.org

 

About EREF
EREF is a 501(c)3 class charity that funds and directs scientific research and educational initiatives for waste management practices to benefit industry participants and the communities they serve. For more complete information on EREF funded research, its scholarship program and how to donate to this great cause, visit erefdn.org.

Media Contact:
Catherine Ardoin, Communications Manager
919.861.6876 ext. 109
cardoin@erefdn.org

 

EREF Awards Nine Master’s and Doctoral Scholarships for 2020

Click here for a PDF of this release.

Raleigh, NC (October 22, 2020) – The Board of Directors of the Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) are pleased to announce the award of nine scholarships to Master’s and Doctoral students pursuing education and research in solid waste management.

Congratulations to the 2020 EREF Scholars:

Ryan Anderson
Colorado State University, Ph.D.
EREF Scholar 2020
Advancing a Novel Anaerobic Digestion Process for Producing Fatty Acids from Solid Wastes

When solid waste undergoes anaerobic digestion methane is generated, which can be used for energy. However, Anderson’s work investigates a potentially more valuable anaerobic digestion product than methane. When operating an anaerobic digester at a low pH, methane production is inhibited, leaving fatty acids in the reactor. These fatty acids can be used to make useful chemicals, bioproducts and even plastics.

Seth Kane
Montana State University, Ph.D.
EREF Scholar 2020
Treatment of Plastic Waste for Concrete Reinforcement to Increase Viability of Plastic Recycling in Rural Areas

A potential use for lower value plastic waste is to employ it as an aggregate in concrete. However, a limitation in doing this is that a decrease in the strength of the concrete has been observed. To address this problem, Kane’s research aims to develop methods to reinforce concrete with plastics that improve the strength, resist fracture and decrease damage from freeze-thaw cycles when compared to non-reinforced cement. In addition, as concrete is most often produced locally, this can provide a local option for plastic waste reuse in remote and rural areas where high transportation costs can make plastic recycling costly. Additionally, this provides options to reuse mixed plastic type, contaminated and otherwise hard to recycle plastic waste at a lower cost than traditional recycling.

Kameron King
Old Dominion University, Ph.D.
EREF Scholar 2020
Co-Digestion of Food Waste and the Aqueous Phase from Hydrothermal Carbonization of Mixed MSW

In 2017, the United States Environmental Protection Agency reported that Americans generated over 268 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW); with 44 million tons of food waste each year – which can be a key source of energy via the methane generation potential this waste holds. A potential strategy to utilize waste as a resource is the integration of two processes – hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) and anaerobic digestion (AD). When the waste is broken down through HTC, hydrochar, gas and an aqueous waste are produced. Both the hydrochar and gas can be recovered, but the aqueous waste must still be treated. King’s research investigates the use of AD to convert the aqueous waste to recoverable, methane-rich biogas.

Vanessa Maldonado
Michigan State University, Ph.D.
EREF Scholar 2020
Destructive Technologies for the Degradation of Per- and Polyfluroalkyl
Substances (PFAS)

PFAS are a group of synthetic chemicals widely used in multiple consumer products (e.g. textiles, non-stick cookware) and industrial processes (e.g. fire-fighting foams, electronics) due to their unique properties and high chemical/thermal stability. Many of these products are disposed of in landfills, and PFAS has been detected in landfill leachates. Most landfill leachate is treated, which depending on the technology can generate a concentrate solution containing PFAS or saturated granular activated carbon (GAC). Currently, a number of destructive technologies are being evaluated as alternatives to sending the concentrate or saturated GAC back to a landfill, which might contribute to higher PFAS concentrations over time. Electrochemical Oxidation (EO) and Plasma Treatment (PT) are some of the destructive technologies that have the potential to degrade PFAS. In this research, Maldonado targets both technologies, EO and PT to destroy PFAS present in landfill leachates and saturated GAC containing PFAS, respectively.

Brooke Marten
University of Colorado, Boulder, Ph.D.
Tom J. Fatjo Scholar 2020
Organic Waste Management Systems – A Comparative Environmental Impact Assessment

There are a number of approaches to organics waste management. Marten’s research uses life cycle assessment (LCA) to compare the environmental impacts of various organic waste disposal options (i.e. conventional disposal in an engineered landfill with a landfill gas energy recovery system, anaerobic digestion, incineration and pyrolysis). One unique avenue that she is modeling is the pyrolysis (destruction of material under pressure at high temperatures, but that does not constitute burning of the waste) of organic waste to produce renewable energy and biochar, a material that can be used as an adsorbent to treat wastewaters, such as landfill leachate. The overall goal of her research is to quantify the environmental implications of each disposal route (e.g. conventional landfilling with energy generation, anaerobic digestion, incineration, pyrolysis) and encourage a shift to more sustainable organic waste management.

Marcos Miranda
Ohio State University, Ph.D.
EREF Scholar 2020
Changing the Narrative Around Industrial Solid Waste By-Products

When fossil fuel is burned to create energy, it releases an array of different gases, one of which is sulfur dioxide (SO2). Before being released into the atmosphere as flue gas, the SO2 must be removed using a process called flue gas desulfurization (FGD). Miranda’s project addresses several issues related to the FGD material that is produced, a material which is often landfilled, and acid mine drainage (AMD). AMD is a byproduct of mining activities where ore materials react to form sulfuric acid and dissolved iron, which can create pollution if not addressed. The research team has designed a treatment system that removes harmful pollutants from the AMD waters without the need for external inputs (i.e. energy or chemicals) and mixes the AMD with the FGD material. This incorporation of FGD material the causes the ore materials within the liquid to coalesce and form a precipitate that is concentrated with rare earth elements that can later be extracted. This material, after the extraction of valuable minerals, also has the potential to be used to backfill abandoned mines to prevent future generation of AMD.

Kelsey Rodriguez
University of Central Florida, MS
EREF Scholar 2020
Electrochemical-based Degradation Technology for the Treatment of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Landfill Leachates

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are man-made chemicals linked to potentially adverse human health effects. However, due to PFAS’s strong chemical structure, they represent a class of environmentally persistent chemicals that make removal difficult with conventional treatment technologies (e.g. biological treatment), particularly in landfill leachate. This research seeks to use a newly created nanotechnology that utilizes electrochemistry for PFAS removal in landfill leachates. The electrochemistry provides the needed energy to break the strong chemical bonds inherent of in PFAS and overcome the traditional barriers of conventional advanced oxidation processes.

Angel Villarruel-Moore
University of Central Florida, MS
DCA Scholar 2020
MSW Incinerator Ash Co-Disposal with Unburned Waste: Implications for Elevated Temperatures

In recent years, there have been several landfills which have reported landfill gas temperatures in exceedance of their permitted limits set forth by the new source performance standards (NSPS) – these heightened gas temperatures are indicative of elevated temperatures in the waste itself. Previous research has shown a correlation between landfills with elevated temperatures and those which accept various combustion ashes as either daily cover or as waste itself. Villarruel-Moore’s research is focused on investigating various combustion ashes with the goal of identifying key compounds responsible for the observed exothermic activity that leads to elevated temperatures.

Anna Yip
University of California, Berkeley, MS
EREF Scholar 2020
UC Berkeley Plastics System Analysis

Single-use plastics have come under scrutiny with many cities and states initiating policies and goals to reduce or prohibit single-use plastics. The plastics narrative typically revolves around encouraging recycling; however, Yip’s work aims to flip this narrative, asking not how can we encourage recycling, but how can we reduce plastic waste altogether. Yip’s research project can be separated into two parts: (1) to offer a more in-depth, responsible and transparent look at UC-Berkeley’s plastic consumption and waste, and (2) to calculate the impacts of the newly proposed policy to “eliminate all non-essential single-use plastics for which there are viable alternatives by end of calendar year 2030”.

EREF scholarships recognize graduate students pursuing excellence in solid waste management research and education. Recipients are chosen based on credentials and potential contributions to the solid waste industry and its scientific community.

EREF scholarship applications for the 2021-2022 school year are due late Spring 2021. At the time of application, students must be, or will be in 2021, a full-time master’s or doctoral student, and have a clearly demonstrated interest in solid waste management research.

For more information on the EREF Scholarship Program or to access the application, please visit erefdn.org.

EREF is a 501(c)3 class charity that funds and directs scientific research and educational initiatives for waste management practices to benefit industry participants and the communities they serve. For more complete information on EREF funded research, its scholarship program and how to donate to this great cause, visit erefdn.org.

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Media Contact:

Catherine Ardoin, Communications Manager
Phone: 919.861.6876 ext. 109
Email: cardoin@erefdn.org

Higher-res images are available upon request

EREF’s Socially-Distanced 2020 Fall Classic & Networking Event Brings Industry Together for Charity

Raleigh, NC (Aug. 25, 2020) – The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) announced it will hold its 2020 Fall Classic & Networking Event in-person on September 30 – October 1 at the Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, NC. The event, one of the few in-person industry events this year, brings the industry back together with the support of GFL Environmental, the event’s overall sponsor, as well as over 20 additional sponsors thus far. All proceeds from the tournament will support EREF’s charitable mission to fund and direct scientific research and educational initiatives to establish sustainable waste management practices.

While EREF is working closely with Pinehurst staff to ensure the safety of guests, attendees can still expect the fun and quality networking opportunities that the Fall Classic has become synonymous with.

On Wednesday, September 30, the event will begin with an outside (weather permitting) putting contest and networking reception featuring hors d’oeuvres stations and open bars. Following a boxed grab-n’-go-style breakfast, the golf tournament tees off at 8:30 am on Course No. 3 and No. 5 on Thursday, October 1. The tournament will conclude with a contactless Awards Luncheon at 2:00 pm.

The format for the tournament will be four-person scramble with a shotgun start. Players on the first and second place teams will receive trophies and a framed team photo. Hole-in-one prizes will be given at all par threes, including the chance to win $50,000 cash. There will also be other prize winning opportunities, including the chance to win a $10,000 putting contest.

Get the Most Out of Your Time at Pinehurst!
Don’t miss playing the short, 9-hole course that the Golf Channel calls, “the most fun 10 acres in all of golf.” The Cradle Short Course is only $50 per person!

Special Golf Fees – available 3 days pre- and post-event (upon availability):

  • Course No. 1, No. 3, No. 5: $90 per person, per round (30% savings)
  • Course No. 2: $450 per person, per round (9% savings)
  • Course No. 4: $350 per person, per round (11% savings)
  • Course No. 6, No. 7, No. 8, No. 9: $240 per person, per round (15% savings)

Fall Classic registration, COVID-19 safety measures and other Pinehurst information is available at erefdn.org.

COVID-19 Safety Measures in Place
Below are measures EREF and Pinehurst are collaborating on for a safe experience:

  • Socially distanced activities (e.g. outside as much as possible) and increased spacing between seats and tables
  • Providing a mask to each attendee
  • Sanitizing carts and other equipment
  • Meals will be served by Pinehurst wait staff or packaged
  • No-contact awards ceremony
  • Temperature checks upon arrival

For the specific measures Pinehurst has implemented, click here for the “Pinehurst Promise”.

Schedule of Events

Wednesday, September 30

  • Welcome Reception and Putting Contest: 6:00 pm (Resort Club Veranda)

Thursday, October 1

  • Breakfast/Registration: 6:30 am (Donald Ross Room at the Clubhouse)
  • Shotgun Start: 8:30 am (Courses No. 3 and No. 5)
  • Lunch: 2:00 pm (Donald Ross Room at the Clubhouse)

This year’s Fall Classic sponsors – confirmed as of August 25, 2020 – include:

Overall Tournament Sponsor
GFL Environmental, Inc.
Major Giveaway Welcome Reception &
Bloody Mary Bars
Golf Ball & Tee Markers
Wastequip Big Truck Rental Caterpillar
Shirts Golf Carts Hats
Volvo Construction Equipment Environmental Solutions Group Covanta
Goody Bags &
Hole-in-One Insurance
Putting Contest Golf Towels
McNeilus Machinex Rush/Peterbilt
Beverage Carts Golf Contest Package Mulligans
Waste360

Agru
Risk Strategies

InagenAE/Blue Flame Crew LaBella
Longest Marshmallow
Drive Contest
Holes Super Silent Mobile Bidding
Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. Card Payment Services, PTR Baler, Rehrig Pacific Company, Waste Advantage Magazine, Waste Management, Weaver Michelin
Face Masks Staff Shirts
Meritor Sierra Container Group

 

Additional sponsorship opportunities are available. Please send an e-mail to cconklin@erefdn.org for more information.

EREF is a 501(c)3 class charity that funds and directs scientific research and educational initiatives for waste management practices to benefit industry participants and the communities they serve. For more complete information on EREF funded research, its scholarship program and how to donate to this great cause, visit erefdn.org.

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Media Contact:
Catherine Ardoin, Communications Manager
Phone: 919.861.6876 ext. 109
Email: cardoin@erefdn.org

Click here for a PDF of the release.

EREF to Host Virtual Annual Charitable Auction in 2020 Due to COVID-19

Raleigh, NC (June 4, 2020) – In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) will host its 2020 Annual Charitable Auction online in multiple phases.

EREF’s Auction, held each year at WasteExpo, accounts for a large portion of the Foundation’s annual revenue. Given WasteExpo’s virtual transition and ongoing uncertainties related to COVID-19, the EREF Board of Directors determined that the best way to minimize risk to the Foundation’s financial health would be to keep the event in the first half of 2020, which resulted in hosting the event virtually.

“The waste industry is an essential service during these difficult times; therefore, solid waste science remains essential. While we enjoy having the Auction at WasteExpo, I want to ensure that the Foundation is positioned to continue its mission, funding the research that still effects our everyday operations and lives,” said Pat Carroll, President of Environmental Solutions Group and EREF Board Chairman. “I encourage those who are able to contribute to the Auction, or EREF itself, to do so.”

When bidding opens June 15, Auction items will be available for bidding online through the Ritchie Bros. online bidding platform, IronPlanet.

EREF’s Silent Auction, which has been held online since 2016, will once again take place online, featuring must-haves and rare finds such as iPads and autographed images. Stay tuned for more bidding information.

New this year – in an effort to provide additional relationship-building opportunities, EREF has added a new element called the Super Silent Auction. This will consist of outings with key industry executives (e.g. procurement managers). The Super Silent Auction will take place during EREF’s Fall Classic & Networking Event from September 30th – October 1st in Pinehurst, NC.

“This was a difficult decision for the Foundation to make. Each year, we enjoy bringing together various facets of the waste industry into our WasteExpo booth to network and support solid waste science,” said Bryan Staley, EREF CEO and President. “However, EREF fully understands that safety and health are of the utmost importance in these unprecedented times. Hosting the elements of the charitable auction online will provide donors and bidders the opportunity to still support EREF. We hope to be back together again at WasteExpo in 2021.”

EREF will release more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, please contact events@erefdn.org with any questions.

EREF is a 501(c)3 class charity that funds and directs scientific research and educational initiatives for waste management practices to benefit industry participants and the communities they serve. For more complete information on EREF funded research, its scholarship program and how to donate to this great cause, visit https://erefdn.org.

Click here to view a PDF of this release.

Survey Issued to Assess the Frequency and Causes of Fires at Scrap & Recycling Facilities

Raleigh, NC (May 12, 2020) – For years, the public has considered recycling to be one of the best methods of preserving the environment and preventing valuable materials from going to the landfill. Coupled with this is the misconception that landfills are actually harmful to the environment.

As a result of this misunderstanding, consumers, driven to do their sustainable part by avoiding the trash can, discard their items in the recycling bin with little regard or understanding of what does and does not belong in that bin. Thanks to this wish-cycling and confusion, consumers unknowingly create more contamination, rendering some of the material un-recyclable, as well as dangerous conditions for solid waste and scrap recycling facilities.

With these stressors already weighing on facilities, fires at material recovery facilities are on the rise, with records set in July, August and September of 2019 for reported fires.

Despite the recent increase in MRF fires, there is little data and evidence to explain how and why these fires spark. To fill in this data gap, the Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF), in collaboration with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) and the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) have partnered on a study to determine the causes and frequency of MRF fires in the U.S.

The primary objective of this effort is to compile information that summarizes the following information about fires at MRFs and scrap recycling facilities and in collection vehicles:

  • Frequency of MRF and scrap recycling fires annually (i.e. % of facilities)
  • Frequency of collection vehicles fires
  • Suspected cause(s) of these fires
  • Strategies/technologies used to fight the fire
  • Damage caused by the fire (e.g. property, personnel injury/death, lost operating revenue)
  • Preventative measures taken to minimize the potential for fires
  • Likelihood that lithium ion batteries disposed of at MRFs or scrap yards caused a fire

Key industry organizations have rallied around the issue, with the project stakeholders representing a significant portion of the scrap and recycling industry. “These fires present a major risk to worker safety. For years, NWRA has fought to improve worker safety in the waste industry,” said Darrell Smith, President and CEO of NWRA. “This study will better inform our efforts.”

“The recycling industry is taking a proactive approach to addressing the growing concern of fires at scrap facilities,” said Robin Wiener, President of ISRI. “While this includes the implementation of new technologies, workforce safety initiatives, and public outreach on proper recycling, identifying the causes of fires is the first step to finding a solution to prevent them. The survey will help identify the root causes which we can then use to better direct resources to prevent future fires.”

“The information gleaned from this study has the potential to save facility owners money, reduce material loss and, more importantly, increase worker safety,” said David Biderman, Executive Director and CEO of SWANA. “We’re excited about the impact this research can have on the industry.”

A critical component of the study is a survey of recycling and scrap facilities, which recently went live. “Such information is critical and benefits the entire industry, as fires serve to further financial pressure on an already strained industry,” noted Bryan Staley, President and CEO of EREF. To participate in the survey, please visit the project website.

Project sponsorships are available! To sponsor this project, please contact Bryan Staley at bstaley@erefdn.org.

EREF is a 501(c)3 class charity that funds and directs scientific research and educational initiatives for waste management practices to benefit industry participants and the communities they serve. For more complete information on EREF funded research, its scholarship program and how to donate to this great cause, visit erefdn.org.

 

Click here to view a PDF of this release.