Science Sessions provide content for professionals in brief, interactive segments lasting no more than an hour and foregoing the typical presentation-style webinar. The Science Sessions will be centered around EREF’s three strategic research priorities: greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their impact on climate change, emerging contaminants, and advancing materials circularity & recycling.

All are invited to enjoy the Science Sessions at no cost! Read about upcoming Science Sessions below.

Unwrapping Recycling in NYC for the Holidays
December 13, 2023 | 1:00 – 2:00 pm ET

Tis’ the season for an influx of waste and recycling in cities like The Big Apple. Join us for a timely Science Session that will unwrap the nuances of recycling in the heart of New York City, with a special focus on multifamily recycling and the unique challenges of the holiday season. You’ll discover how social norms influence recycling habits, get practical tips on minimizing holiday waste, and see why multifamily recycling tends to be more challenging. Learn more.

View previous Science Sessions on YouTube

Need Professional Development Hours? Upon successful completion of a Science Session, you will receive a Certificate of Completion via email with the relevant number of Professional Development Hours (PDH) shown on the certificate. This certificate does not automatically qualify you for professional continuing education credits. It is your responsibility to verify that the PDHs from this event are eligible for continuing education purposes for your specific credentials. The certificate is only available to those who register and attend the live Science Session. 

To view previous Science Sessions, go to the “Past Sessions” tab.

PFAS for Resource Management: Navigating the Intersection of Science and Legislation

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Join us for an enlightening Science Session as we navigate the ever-changing landscape of PFAS science and its intersection with resource management policy. Our expert panel includes Dr. Bryan Staley of the EREF, Sean McGinnis from COEFFICIENT, Anne Germain of the National Waste & Recycling Association, and Dr. Arie Kremen, from Tetra Tech, an expert in landfill management. Together, they’ll illuminate the current PFAS legislative landscape, future policy direction, the science that supports these policies, and the scientific gaps that need to be addressed.  Learn more

Black Goo: The Unseen Challenge in Modern Waste Management

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Presented by the Environmental Research & Education Foundation of Canada

Delve into the nature and challenges of “black goo” in waste management. In this condensed, high-impact session, we will dive into what black goo is, its sources, why it has emerged as a problem recently, and the cutting-edge techniques used to clean up goo-fouled sites. This session is structured to give you a comprehensive understanding of the issue and its impacts on environmental sustainability. You’ll get the opportunity to hear from experienced professionals who have been directly involved in tackling black goo and have contributed significantly to the field of waste management. Learn more.

Exploring the Impacts of Climate Change on the Solid Waste Industry

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Join us for a thought-provoking discussion on the impact of climate change on the solid waste industry, where we unravel the mysteries, explore examples of climate-related risks, and dissect the reasons the solid waste industry should evaluate these risks. EREF’s Dr. Suzie Boxman, Director of Programs, will be joined by two key industry leaders, Kristian Macoskey, the ESG/Sustainability Lead at Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc., who specializes in climate change risk assessment, and Annette Synowiec, the Director of Policy, Planning & Outreach in the Solid Waste Management Services Division of the City of Toronto, whose work revolves around developing a long-term waste management strategy focused on zero waste and a circular economy. Learn more 

Future Teach: Treating PFAS using AC and DC

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Speaker: Thomas Holsen, PhD, Jean S. Newell Distinguished Professor of Engineering, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Clarkson University
Moderator: Bryan Staley, PhD, PE, President & CEO, Environmental Research & Education (EREF)

In this conversation with Dr. Staley, Dr. Holsen and Dr. Yang will discuss the treatment of PFAS in leachate using two novel destructive approaches: electrical discharge plasma (EDP) and electrochemical oxidative filtration (EOF).

Both processes are innovative, state-of-the-art advanced reductive/oxidative technologies that individually or in combination will aid in managing PFAS in landfill leachate and lead to improved decision making, management practices, and technical methods to minimize PFAS risks from leachate to both humans and ecosystems.

How to (Accidentally) Destroy a Forever Compound

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Speaker: Michael Wong, PhD, Professor and Department Chair, Rice University
Moderator: Craig Benson, PhD, PE, NAE, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Per/polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been detected in landfill gas and leachate due to their widespread applications in commercial, industrial, and household products, including surfactants, firefighting foams, and even drinking straws. In this Science Session, Dr. Michael Wong with Rice University will share how boron nitride and ultraviolet light can be combined to degrade PFAS compounds.

Storage Wars: Sequestering PFAS Using Polymer Chemistry

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Speaker: Todd DeJournett, Senior Engineer, Geosyntec
Moderator: Jack Benson, PhD, PE, NAE, Wisconsin Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Geosyntec, in collaboration with the University of Minnesota, is studying the use of commercially-available polymer flocculants to improve PFAS removal in landfill leachate management operations. While these polymers have previously been shown to bind PFAS to aquifer solids, like gravel or sand, in groundwater applications, the current research seeks to answer whether or not the polymers can achieve a similar result in landfill leachate. In this approach, the application of polymers, along with solid particles that can be settled from the leachate is proposed to sequester PFAS from leachate in solid materials that can be placed back in the landfill. Although the complex nature of landfill leachate presents challenges for binding PFAS by the polymers, the team is gaining an understanding of the characteristics of leachate that contribute to these limitations. The team is also evaluating different combinations of polymer and ballast materials to determine if removal of PFAS from landfill leachate via this method can be feasible in a typical solid waste operation.

During this Session, DeJournett covers the following:

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

PFAS in Waste-derived Compost

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Speaker: Youn Jeong Choi, PhD, Analytical Chemist, Purdue University
Moderator: Bryan Staley, PhD, PE, President and CEO, Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF)

During this Science Session, Dr. Choi will discuss PFAS in compost, why PFAS is being detected, what types of compounds are present, the fate of PFAS in compost and PFAS in biosolids.

Emerging Contaminants in Organics

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Speaker: Jean MacRae, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Maine
Moderator: Bryan Staley, PhD, PE, President and CEO, Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF)

During this Science Session, Dr. Jean MacRae of the University of Maine will discuss emerging contaminants in food waste, what facility operators view as primary concerns and what efforts are needed to address them.

Rock Solid: Evaluating Solidification of PFAS in RO Concentrate

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  • Paul Ruehl, U.S. Environmental Remediation Specialist, LafargeHolcim
  • Ryan Schipper, PE, Senior Engineer, Golder Associates
  • Patrick Stanford, General Manager, Rochem Americas, Inc.

Moderator: Bryan Staley, PhD, PE, President and CEO, Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF)

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) present a challenge for typical treatment strategies and technologies due to their strong chemical bonds and our limited knowledge of the nearly 5,000 types of PFAS. As a result of these strong bonds and their resistance to breaking down, they have earned the name “forever chemicals”. Given this, only a few conventional treatment strategies (e.g. reverse osmosis) have demonstrated the ability to provide significant removal of PFAS from landfill leachate. Thus far, such technologies serve to concentrate rather than destroy PFAS, which leaves a residual that must be managed. One strategy that is currently being evaluated to deal with residuals containing PFAS concentrations is called solidification/stabilization. How does this strategy work alongside existing technologies and what do the experts have to say about them?

Weighing the Options: Current Strategies for Managing PFAS in Leachate

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Speaker: Stephanie Bolyard, PhD, Research and Scholarship Program Manager, Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF)
Moderator: Liz Bothwell, Head of Content and Marketing and NothingWasted! Podcast Host, Waste360

There have been numerous presentations and articles that touch on currently available technologies, or “off-the-shelf” options, as well as innovative technologies. But why is the science behind PFAS compounds and the treatment technologies so important? If the goal is to remove these abundant compounds from the environment, we need to fully understand the implications of these treatment options relative to the chemical make-up of these compounds and what this means for the solid waste industry.

Unnatural Selection: Evolution of PFAS Policy

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  • Anne Germain, PE, COO and SVP of Regulatory Affairs, National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA)
  • Sean McGinnis, Partner, The COEFFICIENT Group

Moderator: Bryan Staley, PhD, PE, President and CEO, Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF)

While research is still needed to fully understand the impacts and treatment methods for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), regulations have been implemented at the federal, state and local level to manage these man-made chemical compounds. What are these regulations and how do they impact the solid waste industry?

  • Joe Benco, PE, Director, Engineering, Republic Services
  • Samuel Nicolai, PE, Vice President of Engineering & Compliance, Casella Waste Systems
  • David Pepper, Vice President, Post Collections for US Solid Waste Operations, GFL Environmental

Moderator: Bryan Staley, PhD, PE, President and CEO, Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF)

During this session, a panel of solid waste experts weighed in with their perspectives on PFAS and the challenges faced.

Looking for a value-driven way to build your brand awareness? Science Sessions sponsorships will be available soon, contact the EREF team at to learn more.