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!

Upcoming topics include, but are not limited to:

  • PFAS Policy & State of Science
  • Black Goo
  • Advances in Landfill Emissions Measurement
  • Climate Change Impacts on Solid Waste
  • Elevated Temperature Landfills
  • Recycling

Stay tuned for additional topics and specific dates. To view previous Science Sessions, go to the “Past Sessions” tab.

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.