EREF Blog

EREF Funds Record-Breaking Number of Scholarships

New Funding Supports Scientific Research into Sustainable Waste Management Practices

Raleigh, NC The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) has officially announced 16 newly awarded scholarships. Due to record breaking fundraising at this year’s charitable auction, EREF is able to fund more scholars than ever before.

A total of 49 scholarship applications were received, with 16 students (12 PhD, 4 MS) successfully funded to pursue their research, making the total number of active scholars reach 30. EREF has funded over $18.5 Million in research grants and scholarships since 1992. Forty percent of EREF scholars are employed in the solid waste field, with their research advancing sustainable materials management and a more circular economy.  This new historic funding of scholarships is thanks to donors’ generosity and moves the Foundation’s mission a significant step forward toward sustainable waste management practices.

“EREF serves as an essential resource to students pursuing a sustainable future backed by science. Due to record-breaking generosity at this year’s Charitable Auction, the Foundation is funding 16 new scholarships, for a total of 30 active scholars, the most in its history,” said Bryan Staley, PhD, PE, President and CEO of EREF. “EREF is grateful for the growing support of its mission to light the way toward a more circular economy while championing scholars researching sustainable waste management practices.”

To learn more about EREF’s scholarships program, click here. To learn more about current scholars, and to stay updated on the new scholars’ research when forthcoming details are posted, click here.

 

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Media Contact:

Milly Read
Communications Manager
Email: MRead@erefdn.org

EREF Releases Life Cycle Assessment of Curbside Material Recovery

Raleigh, NC (July 21, 2022) – The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) today released its new Life Cycle Assessment of Curbside Material Recovery.

In addition to providing an overview of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), this report provides information on the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fossil energy use associated with curbside municipal solid waste (MSW) management systems including landfilling, recycling, and yard and food waste composting.

“When studying the environmental impacts of waste management systems, life cycle assessments (LCA) can provide valuable insight into the cycle of a product’s use, disposal, and potential re-use,” said Bryan Staley, PhD, PE, President and CEO of EREF. “The results of EREF’s LCA of Curbside Material Recovery shines a light on the importance of understanding the trade-offs of different collection and endpoint management options.  This study helps advance meaningful dialogue and informed decision-making by highlighting the nuances and sensitivities that should be considered with curbside material recovery.”

DOWNLOAD: The full report, including 13 Key Findings, can be downloaded for free here.

EREF is a 501(c)3 class charity that advances scientific research and creates educational pathways that enable innovation in sustainable waste management practices. 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:

Milly Read
Communications Manager
Email: MRead@erefdn.org

EREF Announces Landfill Emissions Measurement Project through Partnership with Florida State University

Raleigh, NC – The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) announced a project that aims to aggregate needed data related to direct measurement of landfill emissions, in partnership with Florida State University. Dr. Tarek Abichou, PhD, PE, FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, is the principal investigator on the project.

This project will combine data from a variety of direct emission measurement technologies, with some sites being measured for emissions using multiple technologies over the same time frames to allow intercomparison of results. This project aims to make a significant contribution in the methodologies of providing estimates of methane emissions rates. The vision of the work being conducted at FSU is to provide scientifically-validated landfill emission measurement methodologies and improve protocols for greenhouse gas emissions inventories for landfills.

“It is imperative we improve landfill emissions measurement methodologies and significant data is
needed at multiple sites. Such data is critical in order to validate the accuracy and variability of direct
measurement strategies so we may better understand how to be effective in lowering greenhouse gas
emissions,” said Bryan Staley, PhD, PE, President and CEO of EREF. “EREF is proud to support this project and empower credible science to lead the way toward improving sustainability in waste
management practices.”

“The overall objective of this project is to contribute in the efforts of converting ambient air methane
plume and concentrations monitoring, acquired via ground, aerial, or even satellite technologies. This
will estimate methane emission fluxes, in mass per time for a single facility. Specifically, the project will
(1) provide scientifically validated methodologies that measure emissions from landfills, and (2) revise
and develop protocols for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories for landfills. We also hope that
some of the lessons learned during this project will be extended to measuring emissions from other
sectors,” said Dr. Tarek Abichou, a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and an Executive Director at Resilient Infrastructure & Disaster Response Center (RIDER).

Background:

Amongst all currently available methods of measuring methane emissions from landfills, the controlled tracer correlation technique is currently considered to be the most accurate method, in terms of providing estimates of total methane emissions from landfills. The controlled tracer method is also regarded as the benchmark to “ground-truth” other technologies developed or designed to provide estimates of total landfill emissions.

Several techniques are being and will be tested as alternatives to the controlled tracer technique, such as Continuous Emissions Monitoring (CEM), ground-based Surface Emissions Monitoring (SEM), Drone based Emissions Monitoring (DEM), and Airplane, or Satellite based methodologies. The newly formed Methane Emission Reduction Initiative (MERI) at FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, Florida State University, have performed and will perform the controlled tracer release testing in participating landfills across the country. Measured and estimated facility emissions will be compared to reported emissions typically obtained using USEPA and IPCC modeling approaches.

The program is estimated to be complete by the end of 2022. If you would like to be a participating landfill, please contact Dr. Tarek Abichou, abichou@eng.famu.fsu.edu to discuss surface emission monitoring/measurement options at your site as Carbon Mapper travels the country.

EREF is a 501(c)3 class charity that advances scientific research and creates educational pathways that enable innovation in sustainable waste management practices. 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:

Milly Read
Communications Manager
Email: MRead@erefdn.org

EREF Hosts Record-Breaking Charitable Auction, Proceeds Directly Support Scholarships and Scientific Research

EREF Hosts Record-Breaking Charitable Auction, Proceeds Directly Support Scholarships and Scientific Research

Raleigh, NC (May 26, 2022) – The Environmental Research & Education Foundation announced its 2022 Charitable Auction, held on May 11 at Waste Expo in Las Vegas, NV, is the most successful in Foundation history, with over $3.5 Million raised to support scholarships and scientific research toward sustainable waste management practices.

EREF has funded over $18.5 Million in research grants and scholarships since 1992. Currently, EREF is funding 32 research projects, the most in the Foundation’s history. Forty percent of past and present EREF scholars are employed in the waste industry, with their research directly impacting the solid waste industry.

EREF received $29,550 in Fund-A-Need donations, including $5,000 from the winning team of NWRA FILA & Women’s Council Deal Me In M&A Competition, hosted by Stifel, $10,000 from SCHAEFFER, $5,000 from Sierra Container Group, and other organizations who generously contributed. These funds go directly to scholarships and grants.

Watch highlight video here. 

“EREF is a resource to help open educational pathways for students while advancing scientific research in the solid waste industry. The generosity displayed at our 2022 Charitable auction broke all records in the Foundation’s history, it was truly monumental. EREF appreciates the support of our generous donors and supporters as they help us light the way toward smart, sustainable waste management practices,” said Bryan Staley, Ph.D., P.E., President and CEO of EREF.

“EREF has given me the tools and network I need to pursue my research and work toward a more sustainable tomorrow. I am proud to be an EREF Scholar, and am grateful for the additional brain-power of peers and mentors which make a world of difference to my research,” said Monica l. Rodriguez Morris, MS, EREF Scholar. “The Foundation has provided me with the opportunities to pursue my dream of bridging industry and academia, and ultimately leaving our environment a better place for our families.”

Dr. Bryan Staley receiving the NWRA FILA & Women’s Council donation, hosted by Stifel, at WasteExpo 2022.

 

EREF staff at the 2022 EREF Annual Charitable Auction held at WasteExpo.

To view the full list of auction items and winners, click here.

EREF is a 501(c)3 class charity that advances scientific research and creates educational pathways that enable innovation in sustainable waste management practices. 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:

Milly Read
Communications Manager
Email: MRead@erefdn.org

EREF Announces Food Waste and Packaging Sustainability Study with AMERIPEN and Michigan State University

Raleigh, NC The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) today announced a new sustainability-driven project, partnered with AMERIPEN (the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment) and Michigan State University, that focuses on the consumer relationship between packaging and food waste.

The objective of this research will be to collect data and gain an understanding of the relationship between packaging and household food waste. It will explore how consumers use packaging in the home before and after food waste measurement. It will analyze the research findings and identify where more information is needed to recommend potential solutions to leverage the value of packaging to decrease household consumer food waste.

“Human behavior is one of the largest factors that impacts waste generation and disposal. Food packaging design and functionality are critical elements that shape consumer perception of how food is managed inside the household. That perception can be a driving factor in subsequent behaviors that influence the amount of food waste generated. It is critical to increase our understanding of the interaction between perception, food packaging and food waste generation so we may better equip consumers and manufacturers alike in our quest to reduce food waste,” said Bryan Staley, PhD, President and CEO of EREF. “EREF is proud to partner with AMERIPEN and Michigan State University to conduct this study and focus on the intersection between food packaging and a more sustainable future for our environment.”

“We are thrilled to be working with two highly respected academic organizations in the fields of packaging and waste to help bring a level of scientific rigor and data integrity to this effort notes Dan Felton, Executive Director at AMERIPEN. “In 2016 ReFED identified packaging as a key instrument in reducing food waste within North America. A Swedish study estimated 25% of household food waste could be reduced by improving the consumer relationship with packaging—either because the consumer removes products from packaging upon arrival home, they fail to properly seal packaging or packaging is inadequately designed to help them reduce waste. By better quantifying the relationship between consumers, packaging and household food waste, we believe we can help inform strategies to reduce wasted food and the subsequent greenhouse gas emission resulting from this loss. The promise of this collaborative provides an opportunity not only to collect much needed scientific data, but also to leverage insights from this data into meaningful action and change.”

“Wasted food is a growing problem. Packaging can contribute to reducing food waste and consequently, to alleviating the environmental and economic impacts of the wasted food. Although a significant amount of food is wasted at the consumer level, little is known about consumers’ perceptions and awareness of packaging in reducing food waste. Furthermore, literature lacks information on how these perceptions and awareness can differ among population segments.  An online survey questionnaire will be designed to collect insight into consumers’ behavior, perceptions, and awareness as well as to quantify food waste. The collected information will fill current gaps of knowledge about the interactions between packaging and household food waste. A better understanding of packaging’s impact on household food waste could lead to packaging changes to mitigate food waste.” said Dr. Eva Almenar, Professor at the School of Packaging and Project Director. Dr. Matt Daum, School of Packaging Director, agrees and adds: “The MSU Team, Drs. Eva Almenar, Monireh Mahmoud, Euihark Lee and MS student Korey Fennell, are excited to partner with EREF and AMERIPEN to conduct this consumer study that may contribute to creating more suitable packaging to reduce food waste. It is important to take a people-centric approach to research before designing technical solutions. Food waste is a complicated and multi-faceted issue, so this consumer study is an important element for long-range solutions.”

EREF Announces Details for Upcoming Annual Charity Auction  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2022
View Here

EREF Announces Details for Upcoming Annual Charity Auction  

Raleigh, NC – The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) today announced details for its upcoming Annual Charity Auction:

  • Live auction will be held at WasteExpo in Las Vegas, NV on May 11, 2022 in Booth #551 at 3:30pm PT. 
  • Reception will be held in Booth #551 on Wednesday, May 11 at 3pmPT. 
  • Silent Auction will be virtual and is open April 27, 10amPT through Wednesday, May 11 4pm PT. 

“The EREF Annual Charity Auction offers companies a special opportunity to showcase their products, while demonstrating their dedication to supporting credible scientific research in the waste management industry,” said Bryan Staley, President and Chief Executive Officer, EREF. “Cornerstone events like this charity auction bring our Foundation a crucial step forward in our mission of advancing science and creating educational pathways toward a more sustainable future. EREF is grateful for the waste management industry’s continued support, and we are looking forward to having everyone back in person to participate in a good cause.” 

For over 25 years, the generous donations and support of EREF’s Annual Charitable Auction, programs and other events have helped the Foundation become one of the largest sources of funding for solid waste research in North America. Participants help bolster EREF’s mission to support students researching a more sustainable future.   

For full 2022 Auction details, click here. To learn more about WasteExpo 2022, click here.  

To sponsor or donate, contact the Events Team at events@erefdn.org 

EREF is a 501(c)3 class charity that advances scientific research and creates educational pathways that enable innovation in sustainable waste management practices. 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:
Milly Read, Communications Manager
Email: mread@erefdn.org 

EREF Super Silent Auction Aims to Further the Foundation’s Mission while Cultivating Connections

Click here for a PDF of this release.

Raleigh, NC (November 2, 2021) – The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) announces the return of its Super Silent Auction, which will be held online November 3 – 17.

EREF first introduced its Super Silent Auction in 2020 as an opportunity for companies or individuals to cultivate connections with owners, presidents, vice presidents, procurement specialists and more!

The Super Silent Auction will be held virtually through EREF’s online bidding platform beginning November 3 and will close on November 17 in correlation with the end of EREF’s Fall Classic & Networking Event Welcome Reception.

Revenue generated from the Super Silent Auction funds EREF’s mission to advance sustainable solid waste science and education opportunities.

An example of that support at work is recently awarded scholar, Brooke Marten, a PhD student who attends Colorado State University at Bolder. Marten’s PhD work focuses on evaluating waste-derived biochar as an adsorbent and energy source using life cycle assessment methodology.

Brooke recently described her work in a Waste360 article entitled “Evaluating Opportunities for Resource Recovery in Waste Management,” as well as in a brief video.

To support students like Brooke and other science and education opportunities through the Super Silent Auction Outings, visit EREF’s online bidding platform and place a bid!

In order to bid, simply click “REGISTER TO BID” and complete the form as prompted. You will receive a text message and/or email, pending the information you provide, confirming your registration and indicating you are ready to place a bid! Outings have a starting bid of $7,500.

Thank you to our donors! Items up for bid:

  • Golf and Lunch with Ed Johnson – donated by Casella Waste Systems
  • Facility Tour and Dinner with Brendon Pantano and Dennis Pantano – donated by Coastal Waste & Recycling
  • Flyfishing in Walden, CO with Tom Miller and Tod Holmes – donated by Eagle River Capital
  • Dinner in Houston, TX with Dan Brazil – donated by FCC Environmental Services
  • Duck Hunting Experience with Josh Thompson – donated by GFL Environmental
  • Golf and Dinner with Tim Stuart – donated by Republic Services
  • Golf and Lunch with Darrell Chambliss – donated by Waste Connections
  • Golf with John Morris – donated by Waste Management
  • Facility Tour and Dinner with WIN Waste Innovations Executives – donated by WIN Waste Innovations
  • Golf and Dinner with the Antonacci’s – donated by USA Hauling & Recycling

Questions? Email events@erefdn.org.

EREF is a 501(c)3 class charity that advances scientific research and creates educational pathways that enable innovation in sustainable waste management practices. 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’S Science Sessions Return with a Focus on the Treatment of PFAS

Click here for a PDF of this release.

Raleigh, NC (October 26, 2021) – The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) is excited to announce the return of its popular solid waste education series entitled EREF Science Sessions, which will begin in October.

The virtual education series, which was first presented in the beginning of the year, covered a variety of topics related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Kicking off on Thursday, October 28, these sessions will focus again on PFAS, but will highlight the latest information and science around new technologies and techniques for treating the chemicals.

Topics include:

  • Sequestering PFAS using polymer chemistry
  • Using boron nitride to degrade PFAS with ultraviolet light
  • Treating PFAS using plasma

EREF is excited to bring in guest moderator, Craig Benson, PhD, PE, NAE, who will moderate EREF’s first two Science Sessions this fall.

During the first, entitled Storage Wars: Sequestering PFAS using Polymer Chemistry, presenter Todd DeJournett, PhD, PE, Senior Engineer with Geosyntec, will discuss the use of commercially-available polymer flocculants to improve PFAS removal in landfill leachate management operations.

DeJournett will cover the following:

  • The conceptual model for this method and its value proposition
  • Some of the technical challenges associated with this method
  • Results available so far and the researchers’ next steps

This session takes place on Thursday, October 28, from 1 – 2 pm EDT. Click here to register.

EREF will hold 2 additional Science Sessions in November and December. Additional details to come.

  • How To (Accidentally) Destroy a Forever Compound
    November 4 | Speaker Michael Wong, PhD, Professor, Rice University
  • Future Tech: Treating PFAS using AC and DC
    December 9 | Speakers Thomas Holsen, PhD, Jean S. Newell Distinguished Professor of Engineering, and Yang Yang, PhD, Assistant Professor, Clarkson University

The cost for each session is $25 per person. 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.

EREF is a 501(c)3 class charity that advances scientific research and creates educational pathways that enable innovation in sustainable waste management practices. 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

The Environmental Research & Education Foundation and US Composting Council Partner to Conduct Composting State of Practice

Click here for a PDF of this release.

Raleigh, NC (October 19, 2021) – The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) and US Composting Council (USCC) have signed a Memorandum of Agreement in which they will work together to advance the science and knowledge surrounding composting.

A form of composting has existed since early civilizations and has advanced to become a highly sophisticated process. As more than 40 states have set waste reduction or zero waste goals and companies pursue compostable products as part of their ESG strategies, composting has become an integral part of the waste management system.

Nonetheless, knowledge gaps surrounding this disposal method remain, including how widely available access is, total processing capacity in the U.S. and current challenges.

EREF, in partnership with the U.S. Composting Council, have initiated a study to evaluate the state of practice of composting in the U.S. Key elements of the effort are to determine accessibility to commercial composting, quantify the number of composting facilities, aggregate the economic data and better understand various attributes of composting operations (e.g. technologies used, tonnage processed, etc.).

The project is expected to be completed in 2022 and a report will be released.

“We are excited to partner with EREF’s expert team to perform this long-awaited study of the composting industry in the U.S.,” said Frank Franciosi Executive Director of the U.S. Composting Council. “The data collected in this important study, will help advance the composting industry as a major contributor in the new circular economy.”

“This partnership is an exciting step in advancing the science and education of composting,” said Bryan Staley, EREF President and CEO. “We look forward to working with the USCC as both organizations share a drive to improve the environment and increase sustainable science.”

EREF is a 501(c)3 class charity that advances scientific research and creates educational pathways that enable innovation in sustainable waste management practices. 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 Invests in New Development, Data & Policy and Sustainable Materials Management Staff

Click here for a PDF of this release.

Raleigh, NC (September 28, 2021) – The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) proudly announces the hiring of three new staff. These new staff come at the inception of a new 5-year plan, which focuses on sustainable materials management, furthering Data & Policy research and building/reinforcing relationships within the waste industry and the packaging and materials management industries.

Please give a warm welcome to the new team members:

  • Kyle Kusterer, Vice President of Development
  • Callyn Gonzales, Sustainability Manager
  • Gabriel Vegh-Gaynor, Project Coordinator

Kyle Kusterer

Kyle Kusterer serves as EREF’s Vice President of Development. In this position, he works to build and support relationships with EREF’s current and future donor base to increase the Foundation’s scope of impact through funding its Research, Data & Policy, Scholarship and Sustainability initiatives. Kusterer connects both individuals and corporations interested in exploring philanthropic opportunities that will make a positive impact on the trajectory of EREF’s mission, enabling innovation in sustainable waste management practices. Focusing on both current use funding as well as building the Foundation’s endowment will ensure real-time solutions are subsidized and the future of the circular economy is funded.

A graduate of Appalachian State, Kusterer comes to the role with over a decade of experience fundraising for a regional nonprofit and a Research I University. Throughout his career, he has been a fundraiser in higher education and non-profit spaces where he has had the unique opportunity to collaborate with community leaders, board members, foundations and corporations to achieve a collective impact.

Callyn Gonzales

Callyn Gonzalez is EREF’s new Sustainability Manager. She holds a Masters of the Environment Degree from University of Colorado Boulder with a specialization in sustainable food systems. Since the completion of her Masters, her career has focused on circular economy practices and packaging waste in the consumer packaged goods industry. She has spent years working in corporate zero waste strategy and sustainable packaging development, and hopes to use her experience in the upstream space to maximize the impact of EREF’s Sustainability Program.

Gabriel Vegh-Gaynor

Gabriel comes to EREF with a background in public policy, international affairs and market research. He is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and holds a degree in Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to his current role as Project Coordinator on the Data & Policy team at EREF, Gabriel worked as an analyst for a market research firm in Washington, D.C. where he contributed to projects in the renewable energy and emerging technology sectors. He is excited to get to know the solid waste industry and to understand the needs of its stakeholders and consumers. Gabriel will be supporting EREF’s research and analysis efforts, and is working on projects related to the state of leachate treatment practices, compost and recycling programs in the U.S., waste truck fleet characteristics and more.

“I expect EREF’s next 5 years to be transformative. Our broadened mission will allow us to tap into new markets and industries, providing them with research that can shape the way materials are sourced, products are created and ultimately discarded,” said Bryan Staley, EREF President and CEO. “We are happy to have Kyle, Callyn and Gabe on the team and excited to see their impact in furthering EREF’s new mission and strategic direction.”

For further details about EREF’s five-year plan, its mission and its staff, please visit erefdn.org.

EREF is a 501(c)3 class charity that advances scientific research and creates educational pathways that enable innovation in sustainable waste management practices. 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