Celebrate National Pollution Prevention Week 2012

Today marks the first day of National Pollution Prevention Week. Pollution Prevention Week is annually the third week of September. Pollution Prevention Week is a time when businesses, environmental groups and citizens can join forces for a common cause. By sharing information about pollution prevention, businesses can become more competitive, businesses and government can realize cost savings, and environmental quality can be enhanced.P2 Week 2012 poster

The theme for Pollution Prevention Week 2012 is “Safer Chemicals for a Safer World,” which embodies a national effort for safer alternatives to chemicals of concern. This is to ensure the safety and health of workers and communities. Using safer chemical alternatives also provides companies with a marketing edge over their competitors.

For more information on P2 Week, see the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable web site at http://www.p2.org/p2-week/. See also the US Environmental Protection Agency P2 Week page, with tips on preventing pollution at work, home, on the road, and at school, as well as information on various P2 Week activities.

Read the text of the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 here.

For further assistance, see the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) web site (GLRPPR is a project of ISTC), or the ISTC Technical Assistance program page.

The Printer’s National Environmental Assistance Center at ISTC

Since its inception in 1995, The Printers’ National Environmental Assistance Center (www.pneac.org), has served as a valuable and comprehensive environmental resource for the printing, publishing, and packaging industry. PNEAC is the leading web site for printers and those who assist printers interested in improving their environmental performance. The program is principally funded by U.S. EPA. The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) is the coordinating agency for PNEAC.
PNEAC is a unique and effective partnership between industry, government, and university technical assistance providers. It serves those who interact with the printing industry — one of the largest manufacturing industries in the United States, North America, and the world. The PNEAC mission is to assist regulatory agencies and technical assistance providers by delivering current, reliable environmental compliance and pollution prevention information to printers, publishers, and packagers.
The PNEAC web site has been recently redesigned and new features include compliance and technical tools and resources supporting carbon emission reduction and energy efficiency. The site offers compliance information, fact sheets, case studies, virtual printing plants, contacts, program information, print process descriptions, and training.
Debra Jacobson is an Environmental Engineer and Printing Waste Reduction Specialist, and serves as the Director of the PNEAC. She also has coordinated the Great Printers Project and the Illinois Great Printers Project. Ms. Jacobson has been involved in the printing industry for over 20 years. She provides technical assistance to printers and related businesses regarding pollution prevention opportunities and authors compliance assistance tools, including manuals, fact sheets, and other resources for the printing industry. Jacobson also serves as Regional Operations Manager in the Oak Brook office of ISTC. She is responsible for providing technical, environmental and safety compliance assistance to industrial facilities within Illinois.

International e-waste competition underway.

Current college/university students and recent graduates have an opportunity to create useful and appealing products from e-waste—computers, printers, cell phones and similar materials that would normally end up in landfills. And their efforts could win them prizes.

The International E-Waste Design Competition (www.ewaste.illinois.edu), allows participants will explore solutions to this problem at the local level and beyond. At the conclusion of last year’s competition, $20,000 in prize money was awarded to six teams and three honorable mentions. Prize money was contributed by corporate sponsors including DELL and Walmart. The prizes for the 2012 competition have yet to be announced. The Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI) (www.sustainelectronics.illinois.edu) and the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) (www.istc.illinois.edu) coordinate the competition.

Registration is free and opens September 1, 2012. College students and recent graduates are encouraged to submit their ideas for products or services that prevent e-waste generation through life-cycle considerations (E-Waste Prevention Category). or that incorporate e-waste components into a new and useful item (E-Waste Reuse Category). See the rules posted on the competition web site for complete details regarding eligibility and descriptions of project categories. One entry per person or team is allowed. Students are not allowed to be on more than one team, but students are allowed to submit a project with one team and additionally submit one individual project.

Registration closes November 1, 2012 and winners will be announced in early December as the finale of ISTC’s Sustainability Seminar series for Fall 2012. That series will be focused on sustainable electronics. The awards presentation will also be broadcast as a webinar.

As part of their entry, participants will upload a “video commercial” for their project to YouTube. (See “Registration” on the competition web site for complete entry requirements.) Expert jurors from industry, professional organizations, government agencies, universities and non-profits will award monetary prizes to individuals or teams in each category, for a total of six prizes. Honorary mention awards may be given at the discretion of the judges. Competition sponsors have included leading manufacturers, retailers and professional organizations, and will be listed on the competition site as they are confirmed.

Instructors at colleges, universities and trade schools are encouraged to promote this competition to their students and to consider incorporating entry into course curricula. Various institutions beyond The University of Illinois have done this over the years, particularly with industrial design courses. The competition is open to students from all disciplines. Past entries have been received from students in mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, biomedical engineering, industrial design, and fine and applied arts.

The competition began as a local event on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009. William Bullock, a professor of Industrial Design with the School of Art + Design taught a course on e-waste issues. As part of that class, the students conducted an e-waste collection on campus to gather unused CPUs, monitors, keyboards, mice, printers, scanners and cell phones as fodder for design projects. From that, the idea for a local reuse competition was born, and the competition was open to the entire campus. In 2010, the competition expanded to a global scale where applicants were asked to submit ideas online, including videos of their entries. The competition has grown to encompass ideas for waste prevention as well as waste reuse.

E-waste is an important social and environmental issue. The U.S. EPA estimates that Americans currently own nearly 3 billion electronic products and that about two-thirds of the electronic devices removed from service are still in working order. However, only about 15% of this material is recycled while the majority is disposed in landfills.

For more information on entering the competition, incorporating it into courses, or being a sponsor, contact Joy Scrogum, SEI Education Coordinator, jscrogum@illinois.edu or at 217-333-8948. For videos from last year’s competition, see www.ewaste.illinois.edu/.