Champaign County Household Hazardous Waste Collection scheduled for October 26; Online registration begins September 23

The online registration for the fall Illinois EPA-Sponsored One-Day Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event in Champaign County will open on Monday, September 23, at 8 a.m. The link to the online registration system is http://hhwevent.simplybook.me/. The collection event will take place on Saturday, October 26, in Champaign. Residents can find drop-off location information on the registration website.

This drop-off event is open to all Illinois residents. Residents must register for an appointment in order to attend. On September 23, residents can reserve one of the available 15-minute time slots between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Immediately upon reserving a time, a confirmation email and/or text message will be sent. The resident will also receive a postcard in the U.S. Mail five to seven days before the event which serves as their “ticket” into the event.

A complete list of household hazardous wastes that are and are not accepted is available online at https://www2.illinois.gov/epa/topics/waste-management/waste-disposal/household-hazardous-waste/Pages/acceptable-wastes.aspx

The online registration will remain open until all 15-minute time slots are full.

If residents need assistance registering for the event, they can contact Nichole Millage, Environmental Sustainability Specialist by email at recycling@champaignil.gov or call 217-403-4780.

Illinois EPA’s Office of Energy awards grant to Southern Illinois University-Carbondale for innovative engineering project

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director John J. Kim has announced that the Agency’s Office of Energy has issued a $900,000 grant award to SIU Carbondale for a unique solar photovoltaic plus energy storage and communication resiliency project.

The SIU Solar + Storage project will feature more than 150kW of solar generation and 310kWh of storage capacity in a highly-visible section of campus at the SIU College of Engineering.

As proposed, this project will:

  • reduce SIU’s demand on the grid;
  • serve as an important educational tool
    to the College of Engineering; and
  • add resilience to the electricity and communications infrastructure of
    SIU and the surrounding Carbondale community.

The SIU Solar + Storage project is the first investment of its kind by Illinois EPA’s Office of Energy and designed to be replicated and applied to other contexts and potential future investments across Illinois in and out of the higher education setting.

“The SIU Solar + Storage project will provide energy savings and emergency communications resiliency for the campus and Carbondale community as well as enhance educational opportunities for the University’s College of Engineering,” said Director Kim. “Illinois EPA looks forward to watching the
project evolve as students engage with the technology from different perspectives.”

There are two other important components of the project. First, solar powered long-term evolution (LTE) communication modules will sustain cellular communication for the SIU police department, the Carbondale police department, and the Carbondale fire department in the event of power disruption.

Second, the project intends to demonstrate that photovoltaic (PV) systems with energy storage provide a viable alternative when selecting backup power sources for small-scale applications. This will be achieved by closely monitoring the operation of the battery storage backup in response to utility power disruption.

The Office of Energy is working closely with the SIU Office of Sponsored Programs, the SIU Physical Plant Engineering Services, and the College of Engineering to design an impactful project with meaningful educational opportunities for engineering and communications students.

Meet April Janssen

April Janssen is a Sustainability Specialist at ISTC’S Oak Brook Office, where she works with businesses and communities improve their waste management practices.

How old were you when you first became interested in sustainability? What sparked your interest?
Growing up in Wisconsin on a river, I’ve always had a connection to nature and sustainability. I recall saving my modest childhood allowance to adopt an acre of rainforest through the Nature Conservancy so I could somehow be part of this wonderous ecosystem. Living in Chicago that has manifested to personal actions, studying and professionally pursing sustainability.

Who or what drew you to study sustainability?
While initiating and growing the Chicago Marathon’s Sustainability Program, I began applying my personal practices professionally and acknowledged my passion for topic, as well as the need for a more formal foundation.

What is your background prior to working at ISTC?
I worked on the Chicago Marathon (Chicago Event Management) for 7 years, managing the Volunteer Program and developing the Sustainability Program. As an event invested in health and fitness, the community hosting the 26.2 mile course and the dozens of charities who use the event to raise millions of dollars, an environmental aspect was the next natural step. We utilized the Council for Responsible Sport’s certification as a framework to guide the program and our initiatives, as well as earn certification. I left to pursue a Master’s in Sustainable Urban Development and began working at Bright Beat, a sustainability consultancy, where I was able to gain more experience in sustainable operations, facilities, communication and engagement through a variety of projects.

What are you looking forward to the most in your new role at ISTC?
I am looking forward to supporting and learning more about the many diverse sustainability applications ISTC’s project partners are seeking – from waste characterization studies aimed at achieving zero waste, to renewable energy generation recommendations in support of net zero commitments, and everything in between. I am excited to be here!

What are common misconceptions about your career? OR What question do you get asked most frequently about your career?
The most common misconception is that sustainability is ‘too difficult’ or ‘too costly’, when often small changes make big impacts, at little to no cost, or there’s a cost savings. The most common question I am asked is, ‘Can I recycle this?’

What are some challenges you’ve faced in your career?
People who don’t care. I take the carrot rather than the stick approach, ultimately educating, inspiring, and enticing people to care.

What advice would you give to future sustainability professionals?
Stick with it! There are many approaches to sustainability and paths to where you want to be.

If you could switch jobs with someone, who would it be?
I would love to work on the sustainability program of an Olympic Games. Years in the making, the world stage, excellence in sport, a time of peace and camaraderie – the Olympics exemplify the best humanity has to offer.

 

 

ISTC receives $2,998,040 grant from U.S. DOE for Phase II of Large Pilot Testing of Carbon Dioxide Capture Technology project

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced funding for Phase II of ISTC’s project titled ”Large Pilot Testing of Linde/BASF Advanced Post-Combustion CO2 Capture Technology at Coal Fired Power Plant”. ISTC will receive $2,998,040 in funding from DOE for Phase II.

During Phase II, the project team will continue plans to design, construct, and operate an advanced amine-based post-combustion carbon dioxide (CO2) capture system at a coal-fired power plant using technology developed by Linde/BASF. City Water, Light, and Power’s Dallman Unit 4 generating station in Springfield, IL will serve as the host for Phase II. The project will allow for knowledge-sharing with coal-fired plant generators across the U.S. and beyond, leading to larger scale operations to reduce energy costs and limit emissions.

“This first-of-its-kind large scale demonstration is vital to the carbon capture knowledge base and experience and will serve as a reference for future commercial projects,” said Kevin C OBrien, ISTC’s director and the project lead. “Technology that helps keep energy costs low while limiting carbon emissions is of interest to communities in the region, our nation, and internationally. The successful completion of this phase and subsequent project phases will demonstrate the technical feasibility of the retrofit and provide a blueprint for power facilities globally. Installing capture facilities to coal-fired power plants also contributes to workforce and professional development opportunities, which are especially critical for economically depressed regions being hit hard due to the collapse of the coal industry and its related supply chain.”

City Water, Light, and Power (CWLP) is a municipally-owned utility that supplies electric and water services for residents and businesses of Springfield, IL. The Dallman 4 unit with an approximate nameplate generating capacity of over 200 MW, was commissioned in 2009, and is the largest and newest of CWLP’s four generating units.

Doug Brown, Chief Utility Engineer at CWLP said, “We are excited to be involved in a project that manages CO2 emissions. It fits well with our interest in supplying energy and water to Springfield in a highly sustainable fashion. We welcome the opportunity for CWLP to be one of the largest R&D capture pilots from a global perspective.”

Learn more about the project at https://go.illinois.edu/large-scale-carbon-capture.

Meet Savannah Feher

Savannah Feher is a Sustainability Technician with ISTC’s TAP group. Savannah supports research and sustainability reporting for a variety of clients. She also assists with waste assessments and implementation planning for the Zero Waste program.  She is based in ISTC’s Oak Brook office.

Savannah will be speaking at the Illinois Recycling Association’s event Recycling in Transition on Wednesday, September 11 at IEPA headquarters in Springfield.

How old were you when you first became interested in sustainability? What sparked your interest?

As long as I can remember my family has been composting, growing their own organic produce and hanging clothes out to dry on a clothes line outside. Growing up, it was just a way of life that, as I got older I began to want to know more and more about.

Who or what drew you to study sustainability?

Again, my upbringing played an instrumental role. Growing up with so many facets of sustainability woven into my everyday life, it took a while for me to realize that everyone does not know what composting means. Understanding that there is, above and beyond a need for education and implementation has driven my path to assist with that.

What is your background before coming to work at ISTC?

As a fairly recent graduate, I have interned with the Missouri Botanical Gardens Earthways Center as a Sustainability Education Intern, along with being an Assistant Canvassing Director of a campaign office for the Fund for the Public Interest. Right before this position I worked at Allbirds, a sustainable shoe brand that opened it’s first location in Chicago this year.

What are you looking forward to the most in your new role at ISTC?

I look forward to the variety of clients, partners and community members that I will be working with. Getting to know and understand the challenges and opportunities that different people and industries are facing will allow me to approach future projects with an increasingly broadened view on how to solve the problems that we face.

What question do you get asked most frequently about your career or the subject you study?

Most questions stem from a general misunderstanding of what it means to work in sustainability. In my position there is not only one right answer to the question of what I do. That seems to be something inherently coupled with sustainability though, the involvement in many different facets of life, which keeps things interesting for me.

What are some challenges you’ve faced in your career?

Discovering where my true passion lies within sustainability has been the most notable journey for me.

What do you wish more people understood about science or being a scientist?

It can take many forms. Sometimes it requires sorting through wet trash during a waste audit, or collecting data through meetings, phone calls or interviews. It is both hands off and hands on, and there is not simply one way or avenue to finding answers.

What advice would you give to future sustainability professionals?

Ask questions. There are so many technologies, industries, issues and potential solutions out there that it can be intimidating at times. Never be afraid to ask, to learn, to inquire about anything and everything new.

If you could switch jobs with someone, who would it be? (Doesn’t have to be a co-worker)

I am not sure of a specific individual who does this, but I have recently taken up soapmaking, and would not mind getting to let my creativity go wild in that department.

Meet Dan Marsch

Portrait of Dan MarschDan Marsch, an environmental engineer with ISTC’s Technical Assistance Program, provides pollution prevention technical assistance to industrial facilities in Central Illinois with particular focus upon source reduction, raw material conservation, and waste minimization.

He is the Principal Investigator of ISTC’s long-running Illinois Conservation of Resources – Economy, Energy and Environment (ICORE3) project, through which currently focuses on Illinois’ food and beverage manufacturers.

He has been with ISTC since 2002.

How old were you when you first became interested in sustainability? What sparked your interest?

My father passed down to me respect and reverence of nature. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been an outdoorsman and have enjoyed nature’s offerings, primarily fishing, as a youngster with my father, continuing into adulthood, as a father with my children, and hopefully one day with my grandchildren.

As a child, I was an avid reader of The Missouri Conservationist, a monthly publication of the MO Dept. of Conservation, as well as a variety of hunting and fishing magazines.

Who or what drew you to study sustainability?

For me, it was later in life. I may have been naïve, but to be an environmentalist, I thought I had to be a field biologist, researcher, park ranger or such. Back then, the options were limited, unlike today. So I went a different career path.

But after a 20 year career in sales, distribution and manufacturing, I felt a void. I lacked passion for what I was doing and contributing to society. I was asking myself some tough, life-changing questions. What was I going to leave behind to the next generation? What would I like to do vs. have to do? How and where would I make my mark in life. It was time for me to make a career and life change.

Building upon my prior education and work experience in industry, I came to work at WMRC’s (now ISTC) Technical Assistance Program in 2002 and finally found my passion and my lot in life. I’m still an environmentalist but my office has changed. I usually say that I work upstream of the environment. I work with industry to prevent pollution and its impact.

What is the best part of your job at ISTC and what work are you most proud of?

The best part [of my job] is helping others [by] being a change-agent and helping my clients save money, reduce their environmental footprint and being more socially responsible. Making a difference in their lives, their business and their community.

The most interesting part of my job is the vast variety of products that I see being manufactured in Illinois. Everything from hammers to hair dryers, cookies to car parts, and how things are made, the processes and skill levels of our Illinois workforce.

I’m most proud of the impact of my Illinois Conservation of Resources and Energy (ICORE) project within Illinois businesses, from 2008 to present.

Some ICORE statistics:

  • 168 participants
  • $40M saved
  • 24 M gallons water saved
  • 343,000 MTCO2e reduced

Mike Springman and I received the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable’s 2013 MVP2 Award for ICORE.

What’s your favorite work-related memory?

I was at a slaughterhouse and meat processor who had an anaerobic covered lagoon that generated methane gas, captured by a large multi-ply black rubber membrane and piped to a scrubber for use as fuel in its gas boilers.

The membrane was inflated and bulging from the methane gas.

They invited me to jump on the membrane, which I did (are you kidding, why not? It looked fun). There I was bouncing up and down like a kid in a bouncy room.

Then it occurred to me, and I asked the question: “How deep is this lagoon of sh#@?”

What are common misconceptions about your career? OR What question do you get asked most frequently about your career or the subject you study?

The most frequent questions are, “Are you EPA?,” “What are you selling?,” “Are there state or federal monies available?”, “How am I going to pay for it?”

My replies: We are not EPA, OSHA, ICE or the police. I sell change. I help companies save money, reduce their environmental footprint and be more socially responsible. And, yes there are external incentives available.

What are some challenges you’ve faced in your career?

Keeping the passion and drive alive.

You have to love what you do, because so much of who we are comes from what we do. We spend a significant portion of our lives working, so why not find a career that you enjoy doing.

Aside from the strength that I get from my faith and my family, I find meaning and purpose in my work and from the lives that I touch.

What do you wish more people understood about sustainability or being a sustainability professional?

Sustainability is more than a feel-good thing, more than a marketing venture or item for your sustainability report. It’s a commitment and a lifestyle.

I try to show my clients that sustainability makes sense and it’s the right thing to do. There’s a business-case for sustainability: the triple-bottom line (people, planet, profit).

What advice would you give to future sustainability professionals?

Find your niche, something that you love and do it. Be persistent and don’t give up or give in. Be yourself and be genuine.  Understand that people don’t care how much you know. They want to know how much you care.

Don’t take it personally or get discouraged when your client doesn’t take your advice or implement the “no-brainer” that you recommended. Remember the old adage, “you can lead a horse to water but can’t make him drink.”

If you could switch jobs with someone, who would it be?

A western actor. The only problem is that I can’t ride a horse, remember lines or smoke a hand-rolled cigarette. And I’m not a quick-draw. I’m a huge western movie buff, circa 1940’s – 1960’s including, Wayne, Eastwood, Fonda, Stewart, Ford (John and Glenn), Scott, and the list goes on.

Check out the Pollution Prevention 101 LibGuide

The Pollution Prevention (P2) 101 LibGuide is designed to help P2 technical assistance providers find information quickly and efficiently. It’s targeted particularly at those new to the P2 field.

Start your journey with the Essential Information section, which has links to materials for training staff new to the P2 field. It includes links to foundational documents, networking sources, videos, and webinar series. Many of the materials included in this section were recommended by experienced P2 practitioners.

Continue on to the Technology Diffusion and P2 section, which discusses technology diffusion and how it relates to P2 technical assistance. It also includes links to essential reading and case studies of how technical assistance programs have used these principles to effectively provide sustainability assistance to companies.

The sector and subject pages are another useful feature. Some of the sectors covered include:

It also includes links to case studies; software tools and databases; compliance assistance; news and current awareness; statistics and data sets; and patents, methods, and standards, as well as advice on effectively locating P2 information.

The guide was developed and is maintained by Laura Barnes, ISTC’s Sustainability Information Curator.

ISTC provides science information at public microplastics meeting

ISTC was one of several expert organizations invited to provide information on microplastics at a public meeting hosted by Illinois State Senator Julie Morrison in Highland Park, IL, on August 14, 2019.

Representatives from the Illinois Environmental Council, Shedd Aquarium, and the Alliance for the Great Lakes participated in the event.

ISTC researcher John Scott discussed the current state of knowledge within the scientific community. He also discussed the current ISTC research on the topic.

Members of the public also asked questions and provided comments on the microplastics pollution issue. Two major themes arose from this discussion:

Do microplastics impact human health?
Panel consensus: There is a major gap in knowledge about the impact that microplastics have on human health. There are a few literature review studies available from epidemiology data, but no long-term health studies have been conducted on the impact to humans of exposure to microplastics.

What can we do to stop pollution and clean up microplastics?
Panel consensus:  Shedd Aquarium wants to become a zero waste leader in the community to show businesses and organizations that reducing plastic use is not only possible, but also manageable. ISTC suggested that waste-to-energy processes, such as pyrolysis or gasification, could be a better alternative than landfilling plastic waste. Policies could be implemented to assist in the transition away from plastics, particularly single-use plastics for non-medical/non-disability purposes.

 

ISTC releases 2018/2019 Year in Review

ISTC’s annual report for the period July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019 is now available. The report features ISTC’s research and technical efforts during the period.

Highlights include ISTC’s work with emerging contaminants and agricultural chemicals, including a recap of the ECEC19 conference. In addition, it details progress with ISTC’s large scale carbon capture project at Abbott Power Plant and other energy research.

Also featured are the technical assistance program’s new projects with food manufacturing companies and wastewater treatment plants, as well as their work with organizations seeking to develop sustainability plans and report progress on sustainability goals.

With these efforts, ISTC continues to advance sustainability in Illinois and beyond. Check out the report for more details.