ISTC Technical Assistance Program launches new webpages

TAP homepage

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) Technical Assistance Program (TAP) has a new web presence. You may now find information on TAP at https://go.illinois.edu/techassist.

TAP makes companies and communities more competitive and resilient with sustainable business practices, technologies, and solutions. TAP works at the intersection of industry, science, and government to help organizations achieve profitable, sustainable results.

The new website makes it easier to find information on TAP programs, services, and projects. Visitors can sign up for free site visits or learn about fee-for-service opportunities to engage our sustainability experts. Any Illinois organization, business, manufacturing facility, institute of higher learning, government entity, public utility, or institution may request one free site visit (per location) at no cost to the facility.

General inquiries may be addressed to istc-info@illinois.edu. You may also reach out to specific TAP team members for assistance in their areas of expertise.

Glass Recycling Foundation partners with Corona on glass recycling pilot project

Corona Protect Our Beaches and Glass Recycling Foundation logo

In a recent webinar hosted by the Illinois Recycling Association/Illinois Recycling Foundation (IRA/IRF), Scott Defife, President, Glass Packaging Institute and Glass Recycling Foundation (GRF), and Jeff Lang of Legacy Marketing described the Corona Protect Our Beaches program currently being deployed throughout Chicagoland.

According to GRF, more than 28 million glass bottles and jars end up in landfills each year, despite the fact that glass is endlessly recyclable. Recycling glass can protect the environment, economy, and sustainable manufacturing by capturing materials for reuse and keeping them out of landfills, as well as preventing litter from polluting the ocean and beaches.

To improve glass diversion from landfills and educate the public about the importance of glass recycling, Constellation Brands and its popular beer brand, Corona, have teamed up with GRF for a glass recycling initiative as part of the Corona Protect Our Beaches campaign.

This pilot program involves glass bottle recycling at Chicago-based bars and restaurants. Participating locations will separate their glass bottles into a separate bulk bin for pick up, starting in late June 2021. The GRF pays a hauler for the pick-ups; there is no cost to the participating locations. Any glass bottle, not just Corona-branded bottles, can be recycled, and no color sorting of bottles is required (as noted during the webinar Q&A).  Additionally, a small amount of incidental contamination (e.g. napkins or straws) is acceptable. This creates a simple system for the participating pilot locations.

The glass recycling pilot will be paired with special events including an interactive experience that sheds light on the need for glass recycling and helps “crush the problem.” At these events, empty bottles will be turned into a sand-like powder using a grinding machine that allows members of the public to watch the process, thus capturing their attention and imagination. Event attendees learn about the program and the call to action, “#DontTrashGlass.” Select consumers will be able to feed empty bottles into the grinding machine. Events will also feature a sand art station for attendees to enjoy as they learn about the benefits of recycling glass. According to Defife and Lang, the grinding machine is actually relatively quiet; the generators used to power the machine at these events is louder than the machine itself. The sand-like substance fits well with the theme of Corona’s Protect Our Beaches campaign and brand identity. GRF recognizes that there are many ways to use recycled glass and beach restoration is one of them; in addition, bottles can become new bottles, fiberglass, construction aggregate, sandblasting, and more.

Corona glass recycling event

Over the course of nine weeks this summer, the grinding machine will tour ten different wholesalers and corresponding accounts. The complete list of grinding events is available at https://protectbeaches.com/events/. Events kick off on June 25 at two locations in St. Charles, IL, and one in West Chicago.

During the webinar, it was noted that additional restaurants and bars can be added to the pilot in the Chicagoland area by contacting Defife or Lang (their email addresses are provided at the end of the webinar recording). Also, the collaborative team is trying to figure out what it would cost to continue the recycling program beyond the pilot period. A similar pilot is taking place in Phoenix, AZ, in partnership with Glass King. At the end of the pilot the total tonnage of glass recycled will be measured to illustrate diversion impacts. Participating locations will also learn valuable information about the nature of their waste streams from those measurements.

Learn More

Links, company, and brand names are provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as endorsements by ISTC or the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Solar-Powered Savings: Impacts of Net Zero Electricity at BEER NUTS

Packages of BEER NUTS
Image credit: BEER NUTS

BEER NUTS operates manufacturing, packaging, shipping, and office spaces in a multi-level, 100,000 square foot facility on a 16/4 schedule. It produces a variety of snack products and exclusively manufacturers its own products with a wide range of recipes. Products are distributed through various retail outlets and direct to consumers.

In fall of 2019, ISTC and their partners completed an Economy, Energy, and Environment (E3) assessment at BEER NUTS, a small, family-owned Illinois snack facility. At the company’s request, the assessment included the feasibility of on-site solar photovoltaics (PV).

The assessment revealed electricity savings opportunities that will reduce usage by 436,000 kWh annually. Once implemented, BEER NUTS’ electricity usage will drop to 342,000 kWh. Using this estimate and additional factors, the assessment partners proposed a 260 kW solar installation costing approximately $481,000. This array, projected to generate 342,370 kWh annually, would supply 100% of BEER NUTS electricity.

Despite the sizable upfront capital investment, the array could result in first-year cost of $94,820 through a reduced power bill and federal, state, and utility incentives. With continuing energy cost savings and incentives, BEER NUTS will break even at 2.5 years of ownership and will see a reduction of $149,000 in utility costs by the 5th year.

After implementing the proposed recommendations, BEER NUTS’ operations will be on target to achieve net zero electricity, meaning that the annual electricity delivered to this facility from the grid will be less than or equal to the renewable energy exported from this facility to the grid. It will also put them on the path to net zero energy. Finally, these recommendations will reduce BEER NUTS’ carbon emissions by 329.95 metric tons. This gives them a significant competitive advantage when working with retailers like Walmart, Kroger, and Amazon that have established sustainability benchmarks both for their own operations and for their suppliers.

This case study demonstrates that a small food manufacturer in central Illinois can replace its annual electricity usage with solar at a 2.5-year payback. Manufacturing facilities across Illinois can replicate these practices with similar benefits, regardless of sector, size, location, or familiarity with solar.

Read the full case study.

ISTC awarded over $400,000 to assist Illinois manufacturers

ISTC’s Technical Assistance Program (TAP) has been awarded over $400,000 in EPA grants to assist manufacturers with improving their bottom line by greening their operations. Assistance under these grants is provided at no cost to participating companies. The funds cover work with manufacturers and their supporting industries across many sectors including:

TAP scientists work collaboratively to identify and promote sustainable manufacturing at the product, process, and system level, resulting in less waste, more efficient use of energy and other resources, fewer environmental impacts, and increased profitability.

For additional information, please contact Irene Zlevor (email izlevor@illinois.edu or call 217.300.8617).

 

Webinar: Pollution Prevention Opportunities for Ammonia Emissions in the Food and Beverage Sector

Register today for a free webinar from the US EPA, Wednesday, November 18, 2020, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM CST.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) will cover their recently completed food and beverage pollution prevention (P2) work funded under EPA Region 5’s Pollution Prevention Grant Program. The webinar will provide attendees with:

  • an overview of the sources of emissions of ammonia from the industrial refrigeration systems commonly used in food and beverage processing facilities;
  • a summary of refrigerant inventory determination methods for industrial ammonia systems, including an Ammonia Inventory Calculator, which is a new online resource to estimate the operating charge of existing systems; and
  • the use of dynamic charge calculations for flagging refrigerant losses from systems that would otherwise go undetected.

Applications of these methods, along with best practices for identifying and eliminating fugitive ammonia leaks identified during fieldwork in Wisconsin food and beverage plants will also be discussed.

Speakers:

  • Douglas Reindl, Ph.D., P.E., Professor UW-Madison & Director of the Industrial Refrigeration Consortium
  • Marc Claas, Researcher, UW-Madison’s Industrial Refrigeration Consortium

University of Wisconsin-Madison logo

Industrial Refrigeration Consortium logo

 

 

 

Register online at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6143302827653408272.

Questions? Please contact Christine Anderson, US EPA Region 5.

 

COVID-19 tools from the Wasted Food Action Alliance

This story originally appeared in the April 2020 Food & Beverage Manufacturing News. This monthly newsletter, focused on sustainability for the food and beverage industry, is a service of ISTC’s Technical Assistance Program (TAP) and is funded through a grant from U.S. EPA. You can subscribe to the newsletter here. 

COVID-19 is likely to have a prolonged impact on the health and well-being of residents in the greater Chicago foodshed which includes a 4-state region. A collaboration of local and regional food systems advocates created a matchmaking tool to connect needs and surplus in the Illinois institutional food system. Examples of listings include:

  • Those with a surplus of meat or vegetables that need a home
  • Those looking for local food to serve to displaced constituents
  • Those with a need for extra hands at their facilities (milkers, kitchen staff, drivers)
  • Those looking for job opportunities after their institution has closed or reduced labor
  • Those with additional storage space for food that needs to be preserved

In addition, the Wasted Food Action Alliance is conducting a survey [EnglishSpanishArabic] of small- and medium-size farms and for-profit and nonprofit food businesses/organizations impacted by COVID-19. This is not a one-time information-gathering process, but an ongoing effort to respond to challenges that can lead to a more sustainable food system. This is not a research project. You can complete the questionnaire multiple times as new challenges arise. Producers from all over Illinois are encouraged to complete the survey.

The Wasted Food Action Alliance is a diverse set of organizations helping build a unified approach towards reducing wasted food and leveraging it to benefit the state. Its mission is to develop a working strategy and action platform that makes Illinois a leader in reducing wasted food by connecting and building on current wasted food initiatives, education, and policy in unified ways that holistically promote source reduction; food recovery for hunger relief and other uses; and recovery of food scraps for composting and creating healthy soil.

Safer sanitation in food and beverage manufacturing and processing

With funding from U.S. EPA, ISTC’s Technical Assistance Program (TAP) is working with the food and beverage manufacturing and processing sector to help them reduce their energy consumption, water use, hazardous materials use, and operating costs. Cleaning and sanitation is a critical process throughout the industry and is one that is ripe for improvement.

By law, all food and beverage manufacturers and processors must have reliable processes in place to keep their products safe for human consumption. They are usually outlined in Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs). Cleaning and sanitation is critical in food safety to protect the processing environment from being inhabited by harmful microorganisms.

Cleaning and sanitation removes the food that bacteria need to grow and destroys any bacteria that may be present. The right prescription depends on the composition of food soils and the surface characteristics. The typical order for cleaning/sanitizing activities is:

  1. Dry clean
  2. Rinse
  3. Clean
  4. Rinse
  5. Sanitize

Common cleaning and sanitizing compounds include acids, alkali, phosphates and chlorine. In-plant storage, handling, and application of cleaning and sanitation compounds can be hazardous to workers. These products can also generate large volumes of wastewater and treatment costs to ensure that all post-sanitizing chemical residues are washed away.

Ozone generator
Ozone generator

With these challenges in mind, ISTC is working with the food and beverage industry to help clients identify and adopt safer, more environmentally benign cleaning and sanitation solutions, including aqueous ozone and electrolyzed water (EW).

Ozone has been widely studied as an anti-microbial for food application in this sector. It is approved for use by the FDA, USDA, FSIS, EPA and OSHA.

Electrolyzed water generator
Electrolyzed water generator

EW exhibits strong bactericidal, fungicidal, and viricidal effects in specific food applications but has not been as widely tested as ozone. It is approved in organic production and handling by USDA and received a Food Contact Notice (No. 1811) by the FDA for application of supplier specific technology to meat, poultry, fish, seafood; fruits and vegetables.

ISTC has a mobile aqueous ozone generator available to demonstrate the effectiveness of this technology. If your company is interested in learning more or scheduling a demonstration, contact Troy Walker or Dan Marsch.

Food and beverage manufacturers explore new efficiency approaches at ISTC workshop

On October 3,  participants from seven different food manufacturing companies gathered at Thatcher Woods Pavilion in River Forest to learn how to take sustainability to the next level at a workshop sponsored by ISTC’s Technical Assistance Program, the Forest Preserves of Cook County, ComEd, Peoples Gas, and North Shore Gas.

Speakers updated the attendees on:

  • ways to reduce a facility’s environmental footprint and save money with pollution prevention and energy efficiency
  • improving water conservation by ensuring proper water chemistry in water and wastewater treatment systems
  • using aqueous ozone, a safer, more effective alternative to chemical sanitizers
  • LEAN for food and beverage manufacturing
  • utility energy efficiency programs
  • renewable energy opportunities
  • developing a supply-chain sustainability program

Two companies requested a free technical assistance visit during the workshop. If you work for a food or beverage manufacturer and want to improve your operating performance, decrease your costs, and use fewer toxic chemicals, schedule your free on-site assessment today.

Download the workshop presentations here.

Food and beverage manufacturers learn new sustainability approaches at ISTC workshop

On June 20, twenty-one people from seven different food manufacturing companies gathered in Champaign to learn how to take sustainability to the next level at a workshop sponsored by ISTC’s Technical Assistance Program, the Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center (IMEC), Ameren Illinois, and Energy Resources Group, Inc.

Speakers updated the  attendees on:

  • energy efficiency opportunities for food manufacturers
  • ways to use renewables to make facilities net-zero enery
  • improving water conservation by ensurinng proper water chemistry in water and wastewater treatment systems
  • case studies highlighting waste reduction and diversion best practices
  • safer sanitation methods through effective alternatives
  • LEAN for food and beverage manufacturing

Two companies requested a free technical assistance visit during the workshop. If you work for a food or beverage manufacturer and want to improve your operating performance, decrease your costs, and use fewer toxic chemicals, schedule your free on-site assessment today.

Download the workshop presentations here.