Joy Scrogum recognized as P2 Ambassador by National Pollution Prevention Roundtable

The National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) has recognized ISTC assistant sustainability scientist Joy Scrogum as the recipient of the 2022 Fred Granek Memorial P2 Ambassador Award.

NPPR established the award in honor of Fred Granek, who suddenly passed away in January, 2014. It recognizes those who travel beyond their own borders to share information, ideas, and technologies that will avoid, eliminate and reduce waste.

Joy works with clients of ISTC’s technical assistance program (TAP) to identify opportunities to alter, improve, or introduce processes, operations, and activities to foster sustainability (including environmental, social, and economic factors). She primarily focuses on zero waste; sustainability planning, goal setting & visioning; communications about sustainability efforts; and stakeholder engagement.

In her twenty-one years at ISTC, she has made a significant impact at the local, state, regional, national, and international level by sharing pollution prevention information, ideas, and technologies. During her tenure, she has:

  • Developed the idea, found campus partners, and successfully applied for seed funding for the Illini Gadget Garage, a collaborative repair center for student- and staff-owned electronic devices at the University of Illinois. As of December 2018, the Gadget Garage had diverted a total of 905.2 lbs. of materials from the waste stream through repair and special materials recycling.
  • Managed the International Sustainable Electronics Competition , a student design competition that encouraged students to consider sustainability throughout the product lifecycle when designing electronics, as well as ways to reuse scrap electronic components in new products. 
  • Developed and ran the Green Lunchroom Challenge, a voluntary pledge program for schools to improve the sustainability of their food service operations, which was funded by a grant from U.S. EPA. Although the project is no longer funded, Joy still maintains a web archive for the project and a blog on related issues.
  • Worked with the University of Illinois College of Engineering to develop and teach a class entitled “Sustainable Technology: Environmental & Social Impacts of Innovations.”
  • Developed and taught a course on reuse as a sustainability strategy for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Illinois.
  • Facilitated networking and information sharing among P2 technical assistance providers at both the regional and national levels through her work with the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable and the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange.

In addition to her work at ISTC, Joy is a board member of the Champaign County Environmental Stewards, an organization that fosters waste reduction and the ability of area citizens to responsibly manage materials by advancing improved local options for recycling, composting food scraps, and the safe and convenient disposal of household hazardous waste.

She also serves on the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition’s communications committee. In this role, she promotes IFSC news, as well as general information about food scrap composting and related issues in Illinois and beyond.

Finally, she served on the board of directors for a non-profit that gave rise to the Idea Store, a creative reuse center located in Urbana, IL.

Synthetic chemicals found in over 8 million Illinoisans’ drinking water

Synthetic chemicals are pervasive in our everyday lives. They’re in many of the products we use like fast food wrappers, cleaning products and personal care items. Even when we’re done with those things, the chemicals live on, and the impacts of that are far-reaching. A Chicago Tribune investigation earlier this year found more than 8 million people in Illinois get their drinking water utilities where at least one forever chemical has been detected . That’s six out of every 10 Illinoisans.

WILL-AM’s The 21st spoke to a panel of guests, including ISTC’s John Scott, to hear more about the study and learn about the impacts of emerging contaminants.

Listen to the recording on The 21st website.

Illinois Farm to Food Bank project garners media attention

Photo courtesy of Rendleman Orchards

The Farm to Food Bank project, a collaboration between Feeding Illinois, the Illinois Specialty Growers Association, ISTC’s Technical Assistance Program (TAP), and Illinois farmers, has been getting some media attention. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Recent coverage includes:

Read more about the project on the TAP website.

Debra Jacobson recognized by Industrial Water, Waste & Sewage Group (IWWSG)

Debra JacobsonThe Industrial Water, Waste & Sewage Group (IWWSG) has named Debra Jacobson the 2022 recipient of the E. Ted Erickson Distinguished Environmental Professional Award.

Ms. Jacobson joins a notable list of 24 past recipients, which is named in honor of founder E. Ted Erickson.  The group established the award in 2000 to recognize an individual who has made a significant contribution(s) in the environmental area, especially at the local and regional levels.

The award is granted based on recognition of the recipient’s community service advancing IWWSG’s goals, leadership / service to environmental professional organizations, including the IWWSG, and contributions to the field of environmental laws / compliance / management / education.

Ms. Jacobson is Associate Director at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), a unit of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois. She oversees the Technical Assistance Program, the Illinois Coastal Management Program team, and the Institutional Water Treatment unit. She also works as an environmental engineer overseeing technical, environmental and safety compliance assistance to organizations, including industrial facilities, within and outside Illinois. Ms. Jacobson collaborates with federal, state and local government agencies and industry trade groups on environmental matters including energy efficiency, zero waste and emerging environmental impacts, such as end of life renewable energy equipment.

Listen to Coastal Hazards Specialist Vidya Balasubramanyam on the Teach Me About the Great Lakes podcast

On the July 19 episode of the Teach Me About the Great Lakes podcast, hosts Stuart Carlton and Carolyn Foley spoke with ISTC Coastal Hazards Specialist Vidya Balasubramanyam about lake level change and her work with municipalities to adapt to it. Tune in for an all-too-rare dose of optimism and a particular fact about donuts that, while true, we hadn’t considered before.

Springfield to become home of world’s largest carbon capture program

Read the full story from WICS.

Springfield is set to become the home of the world’s largest carbon capture research program.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced the construction phase of the $67 million research project at City Water, Light, & Power (CWLP) to study how to decrease carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

“You could really see a situation where people from across the globe are going to be coming to Springfield to see our progress with this particular project,” Kevin O’Brien said.

O’Brien is Director of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Article on microplastic contamination in karst groundwater systems co-authored by ISTC researchers among journal’s most cited

The University of Illinois-led study included researchers from the Prairie Research Institute. Pictured, from left: Walton R. Kelly, John Scott, Nancy Holm, Wei Zheng and lead author Samuel V. Panno.  Photo by Fred Zwicky
The University of Illinois-led study included researchers from the Prairie Research Institute. Pictured, from left: Walton R. Kelly, John Scott, Nancy Holm, Wei Zheng and lead author Samuel V. Panno. Photo by Fred Zwicky

An article co-authored by ISTC’s John Scott, Wei Zheng, and Nancy Holm is among the top cited research in Groundwater.

Microplastic Contamination in Karst Groundwater Systems” was a collaborative effort of researchers from ISTC, ISWS, and ISGS. Published in 2019, it was the first to report microplastics in fractured limestone aquifers – a groundwater source that accounts for 25 percent of the global drinking water supply.

Read more about the research from the University of Illinois News Bureau.

 

Rural-urban collaboration yields alternative solutions to improve state water quality

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago has published a story about their water quality projects in Fulton County. ISTC researcher Wei Zheng is one of the researchers involved in this collaborative effort.

From the article:

In addition to deploying new nutrient recovery technology, the MWRD voluntarily established a program at its Fulton County site to foster collaboration with the agricultural sector to develop and expedite nutrient reduction practices in non-point source areas.

The 13,500-acre property, located in Fulton County between Canton and Cuba, Illinois, was originally purchased in 1970 to restore strip-mined land and approximately 4,000 acres were converted to productive farmland. Years later it became the ideal site to use some of the farm fields to develop and test best management practices to reduce non-point source nutrients.

Since 2015, research and demonstration projects have been established at the site in collaboration with many partners such as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Crop Science Department, UIUC Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, Illinois Central College, Ecosystem Exchange, IFB, and Fulton County Farm Bureau. The projects established include inter-seeded cover cropping, riparian grass buffer, denitrifying bioreactors, runoff irrigation, subirrigation, drainage water managements, designer biochar, and watershed-scale nutrient reduction demonstration.

Read more about Dr. Zheng’s research on the ISTC website.