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About The Environmental Research & Education Foundation

The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF), founded in 1992, is the leading institution lighting a clear path, through research and education to translate ideas into action for sustainable waste management practices. Its purpose is to fund and direct scientific research and educational initiatives on waste management practises to benefit industry participants and the communities they serve. It is based in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The Environmental Research & Education Foundation Headquarter Location

3301 Benson Drive Suite 101

Raleigh, North Carolina, 27609,

United States

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Latest The Environmental Research & Education Foundation News

EREF announces food waste and packaging sustainability study

Apr 19, 2022

EREF announces food waste and packaging sustainability study In partnership with Ameripen and Michigan State University, EREF will study the relationship between packaging and household food waste. The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) has announced a new sustainability-driven project, partnered with Ameripen (the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment) and Michigan State University, which will focus on the consumer relationship between packaging and food waste. According to a release, the objective of this research will be to collect data and gain an understanding of the relationship between packaging and household food waste. The project will explore how consumers use packaging in the home before and after food waste measurement. It will also analyze the research findings and identify where more information is needed to recommend potential solutions to leverage the value of packaging to decrease household consumer food waste. “Human behavior is one of the largest factors that impact waste generation and disposal,” says Bryan Staley, president and CEO of EREF. Food packaging design and functionality are critical elements that shape consumer perception of how food is managed inside the household. That perception can be a driving factor in subsequent behaviors that influence the amount of food waste generated.” He continues, “It is critical to increase our understanding of the interaction between perception, food packaging and food waste generation so we may better equip consumers and manufacturers alike in our quest to reduce food waste. EREF is proud to partner with Ameripen and Michigan State University to conduct this study and focus on the intersection between food packaging and a more sustainable future for our environment.” “We are thrilled to be working with two highly respected academic organizations in the fields of packaging and waste to help bring a level of scientific rigor and data integrity to this effort,” says Dan Felton, executive director at Ameripen . “In 2016 ReFED identified packaging as a key instrument in reducing food waste within North America. A Swedish study estimated 25 percent of household food waste could be reduced by improving the consumer relationship with packaging—either because the consumer removes products from packaging upon arrival home, they fail to properly seal packaging or packaging is inadequately designed to help them reduce waste. “By better quantifying the relationship between consumers, packaging and household food waste, we believe we can help inform strategies to reduce wasted food and the subsequent greenhouse gas emission resulting from this loss. The promise of this collaborative provides an opportunity not only to collect much needed scientific data, but also to leverage insights from this data into meaningful action and change.” The White House issued guidance to federal agencies April 18 that outlines obligations to use domestic materials for infrastructure projects under the Build America, Buy America Act, which was part of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act ( IIJA ). The Buy America provision applies to all taxpayer-funded infrastructure and public works projects. The guidance , released by the Office of Management and Budget, also aligns with the “Made in America” executive order that President Biden issued shortly after coming into office. Under the Build American, Buy America Act, by May 14, the head of each covered federal agency must ensure that projects receiving federal funds use iron, steel, manufactured products and construction materials that are produced in the United States. “This guidance applies to all federal financial assistance as defined in section 200.1 of title 2, Code of Federal Regulations12—whether or not funded through IIJA—where funds are appropriated or otherwise made available and used for a project for infrastructure,” according to the guidance. Under the Buy America Act, all iron and steel used in projects that receive federal financial assistance must be produced in the United States. According to the guidance, “This means all manufacturing processes, from the initial melting stage through the application of coatings, occurred in the United States.” Manufactured products used in federally funded projects must be “manufactured in the United States, and the cost of the components of the manufactured product that are mined, produced or manufactured in the United States” must be “greater than 55 percent of the total cost of all components of the manufactured product, unless another standard for determining the minimum amount of domestic content of the manufactured product has been established under applicable law or regulation.” All manufacturing processes for construction materials used in these projects must take place in the U.S. According to the guidance, the IIJA defines “infrastructure” as public projects that include “at a minimum, the structures, facilities and equipment for, in the United States, roads, highways, and bridges; public transportation; dams, ports, harbors and other maritime facilities; intercity passenger and freight railroads; freight and intermodal facilities; airports; water systems, including drinking water and wastewater systems; electrical transmission facilities and systems; utilities; broadband infrastructure; and buildings and real property." Additionally, "Agencies should treat structures, facilities and equipment that generate, transport and distribute energy—including electric vehicle (EV) charging—as infrastructure,” under the guidance. The head of a federal agency can waive the application of a Buy America preference if he or she finds that “applying the domestic content procurement preference would be inconsistent with the public interest (a 'public interest waiver'); (2) types of iron, steel, manufactured products or construction materials are not produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities or of a satisfactory quality (a 'nonavailability waiver'); or (3) the inclusion of iron, steel, manufactured products or construction materials produced in the United States will increase the cost of the overall project by more than 25 percent (an 'unreasonable cost waiver')," according to the guidance. Kevin Dempsey, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), Washington, supports the guidance, saying, “We appreciate the commitment of the Biden-Harris administration to ensure that all federally funded infrastructure and public works projects use iron, steel and other products that are made in America. As some federal programs do not apply Buy America requirements for the procurement of iron and steel products, we are pleased that [Monday’s] initiative begins the process to remedy this situation by providing clear guidance to federal agencies for adopting appropriate Buy America requirements for all federally funded infrastructure projects. “This announcement is an important first step toward ensuring the fullest possible implementation and enforcement of Buy America domestic procurement preferences by all federal agencies. But this represents just the beginning of a process, and we look forward to working in partnership with the administration and Congress to continue to ensure the use of cleaner American steel in all federally funded infrastructure projects.” However, at least one organization that represents the construction industry does not support Buy America guidance. The CEO of the Arlington, Virginia-based Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) Stephen E. Sandherr released a statement that reads in part: “AGC of America supports sensible efforts to effectively incentivize the growth of America’s domestic manufacturing capacity. Instead, the Biden administration is doubling down on failed procurement policies with its new Buy America mandate. This is the kind of red tape initiative that undermines Americans' confidence in the federal governments’ ability to effectively use their tax dollars.” Sandherr adds, “It makes no sense to place unrealistic limitations on firms’ ability to source key materials at a time when prices for those products are skyrocketing and supplies are limited. Supply chain shortages are already prompting firms to avoid bidding on new projects, as the Army Corps of Engineers discovered on a recent project that received zero bids because of concrete scarcities in parts of the country.” He adds that the requirement to run waivers by the White House “is like asking the U.S. Department of Education to verify every child’s permission slip to miss a day of school. Instead of improving infrastructure for the benefit of communities across the nation, firms will have to spend more time waiting for federal officials to decide whether a project is in compliance with the administration’s latest layer of red tape.” Sandherr continues, “Whatever minimal gains in domestic construction material production this new mandate might temporarily generate will be offset by the increased cost of constructing new projects, slower schedules to build those projects and the fact some key projects could be hamstrung from moving forward.” 1. The construction industry is booming, driving the demand for metal recycling. The construction industry is a major driver of demand for metal recycling. Buildings and infrastructure are constantly being built and upgraded, which requires huge amounts of metal. This creates a constant need for recycled metals, which helps ]sustain the recycling industry. The construction industry is responsible for 40 percent of the world’s consumption of iron, steel and aluminum. There are more than 1 million active construction sites in India alone. This number has been growing steadily since 2010, which means that more metals will be required to keep up with this growth. 2. Automobiles are becoming increasingly complex, requiring more metal parts. The automobile industry is a huge consumer of metal. It takes a lot of metal to build the frames, engines and other parts of cars and trucks. This means the automotive industry is one of the biggest drivers of demand for recycled metals. In fact, a vehicle today is reused and recycled at an average rate of 80 percent by weight. Of that, 65 percent to 70 percent corresponds to its metallic components while the rest (10 percent to 15 percent) corresponds to the parts that are dismantled and reused or recycled. Aluminum prices are up nearly 50 percent since 2009, while steel prices are up about 25 percent. This has helped increase profits for recyclers, as well. 3. Consumer electronics contain a high percentage of precious metals that can be recycled. With the increasing global population, the metal recycling industry is constantly growing due to the demand for consumer electronics. Most people are unaware of the number of metals that are used in these devices and the amount of discarded materials they produce. Cell phones, laptops, tablets and other gadgets contain a variety of metals, including gold, silver, copper and aluminum. When these devices reach the end of their life cycle, it is important to recycle them properly to avoid harming the environment. Recycling centers process electronic scrap by breaking it down into component parts. Perhaps only 12.5 percent of e-scrap is currently recycled globally. For every 1 million cell phones that are recycled, more than 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered. 4. Green energy initiatives are increasing the demand for recycled metals. With the growing demand for green energy, recycling companies can increase their bottom line by selling metal and other materials to local and global markets. There are many benefits associated with recycling your old products, such as reducing waste, saving space in landfills, reducing air pollution from incinerators and providing jobs for people who would otherwise be unemployed due to lack of work opportunities or poor economic conditions. There’s also an environmental benefit because less raw material needs to be extracted,  which means fewer trees need to be cut down. By using recycled materials, industries can help keep valuable resources out of landfills while also reducing their emissions. 5. Defense and aerospace also are driving metal recycling demand. The recycling of metals is becoming more important in the defense and aerospace industries as they work to reduce their environmental impact. The defense and aerospace sector is finding new ways to use recycled metal in its planes, jets and other products. The demand for recycled metals in the aerospace sector is increasing at a rapid pace due to a rise in global air traffic, a growing focus on reducing carbon footprints and stringent government regulations. According to recent reports, more than 40 percent of new aircraft models are designed with at least 50 percent secondary aluminum content. This helps manufacturers reduce costs, as well as their environmental footprint. It is estimated that if all aircraft built in 2020 used 50 percent secondary aluminum content, it would save over 320,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. With continued innovation and growth in this sector, we can expect to see even more benefits in the years to come. The author is the founder of New Delhi-based Nupur Recyclers . London-based Romco Group, which has operations in Nigeria and other African nations, says it has planned its “most ambitious capex program to date” for this year as it builds on what it calls record sales in 2021. In a seven-page quarterly report released in late March, Romco calls 2021 a “stellar year of growth” in which it recycled some 18,000 metric tons of aluminum while bring in revenue of $29.4 million. “With global supply declining and demand increasing, there is an urgent need to ramp up the recycling of existing metals in the supply chain,” states Romco CEO Raymond Onovwigun. “Demand for aluminum is expected to grow by 80 percent by 2050,” he adds. Regarding 2021 investments, Onovwigun says Romco switched to using compressed natural gas (CNG) to power “all our furnaces in Nigeria” and that it focused on building “new trade hubs across Sub-Sahara Africa, and we have strengthened feedstock lines by growing our Small Business Buying Program by 300 percent.” In terms of its investments this year, a further expansion of that scrap collection network is one priority, says the company. Romco also plans to upgrade its truck fleet to service its collection network and to begin building a new melt shop and recycling facility “on the East Coast of Africa.” The African metals producer also says it is planning to achieve “Performance Standard” certification from the Australia-based Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI). It also says it “will engage” the London Metal Exchange (LME) “with respect to listing our materials, potentially enabling our goods for direct trade to the LME exchange, increasing liquidity of alloy stock.” States the firm, “Romco would be the first company to list on the LME as an aluminum alloy producer in over four years.” In its most recent report, Romco said the tense grade of aluminum scrap (mixed castings) represented more than 80 percent of the scrap it melted in its furnaces last year. Romco has what it calls a “fully functional” alloys production plant in in Nigeria, with Ghana identified as the site of its second such plant.

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