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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 seeks landfill emissions measurement improvements

Jun 21, 2022

EREF seeks landfill emissions measurement improvements Foundation announces partnership with Florida State University to conduct emissions research. The Raleigh, North Carolina-based Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) has announced a project intended to aggregate data related to direct measurement of landfill emissions. The research is taking place in partnership with Florida State University (FSU), with Dr. Tarek Abichou, from FSU’s College of Engineering as the principal investigator on the project. “This project will combine data from a variety of direct emission measurement technologies, with some sites being measured for emissions using multiple technologies over the same time frames to allow inter-comparison of results,” states EREF. The project aims to make “a significant contribution” in the methodologies of providing estimates of methane emissions rates, adds the foundation, with the work being conducted at FSU designed to provide scientifically validated landfill emission measurement methodologies and improve protocols for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories for landfills. “It is imperative we improve landfill emissions measurement methodologies and significant data is needed at multiple sites,” comments said Bryan Staley, president and CEO of EREF. “Such data is critical in order to validate the accuracy and variability of direct measurement strategies so we may better understand how to be effective in lowering GHG emissions.” Adds Staley, “EREF is proud to support this project and empower credible science to lead the way toward improving sustainability in waste management practices.” Comments Abichou, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at FSU, “The overall objective of this project is to contribute in the efforts of converting ambient air methane plume and concentrations monitoring, acquired via ground, aerial, or even satellite technologies. This will estimate methane emission fluxes, in mass per time for a single facility. Specifically, the project will: 1) provide scientifically validated methodologies that measure emissions from landfills; and 2) revise and develop protocols for GHG emissions inventories for landfills. We also hope that some of the lessons learned during this project will be extended to measuring emissions from other sectors.” The program is estimated to be complete by the end of this year. Landfill operators interested in participating can contact Dr. Abichou at . Van Buren, Arkansas-based Arkansas Poly & Printing (APP), a producer of flexible consumer packaging, and Virginia-based Trex Co., a maker of wood-alternative decking and railing outdoor building products, have entered into a scrap supply agreement. Via what the two firms are calling a partnership, APP will supply post-industrial and post-consumer resin-based packaging products for recycling to Trex to be used in the making of its composite products for the residential building market. “Commercial partners like Arkansas Poly are essential to Trex’s sourcing efforts,” says Zach Lauer, vice president-supply chain with Trex. “We are excited to join forces with a company that shares our vision of driving recycling for plastic films and pleased to be establishing meaningful connections with our new neighbors in Arkansas.” Comments said Sarah Sparks Diebold, a co-owner of APP, “Our mission of making quality packaging with the least impact to the environment is in perfect alignment with Trex, and we could not be happier to welcome them to Arkansas. This alliance further exhibits our commitment to sustainability within the packaging industry and adds value to our products by providing a tangible ‘next life’ for our resin-based packaging in the form of beautiful and high-performance Trex outdoor living products.” APP describes itself as a vertically integrated Flexo-packaging manufacturer that extrudes, prints and converts flexible film for industrial and consumer packaging purposes. The company says it has a focus on diverting plastic films from landfills by developing materials it considers readily recyclable. Trex composite decking is made from 95 percent recycled and reclaimed materials, including a mix of industrial wood scrap and polyethylene (PE) plastic film. Each year, the company repurposes more than 200,000 tons of discarded commercial and post-consumer plastics, says the company, calling itself “one of the largest recyclers of plastic film in North America.” In addition to its manufacturing facilities in Virginia and Nevada, Trex is in the process of building what will be its third U.S. production site in Arkansas , at the Port of Little Rock. The approximately $400 million campus will include buildings dedicated to decking and railing production, warehousing, reclaimed wood storage, and plastic film recycling and processing. The new PE processing facility will enable the company to collect and process even more plastic scrap through what it calls its ever-expanding network and NexTrex  commercial and community recycling programs. Finland-based Neste Oyj, Germany-based Covestro and South Korean petrochemical company SK geo centric say they are now producing and exporting a polyurethane raw material made from 100 percent renewable raw materials such as waste and residue oil and fats. The cooperative effort is creating Neste RE, which the companies call an International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC)-certified feedstock for polymers and chemicals made from 100 percent renewable raw materials, including waste fats, oils and grease (FOG). SK geo centric is processing this feedstock into benzene at the company’s facilities in South Korea. That material is then supplied to Covestro to use as raw material for methylene diphenyl di-isocyanate (MDI) at its site in Shanghai, China. The companies describe MDI as “a key raw material for the manufacture of rigid polyurethane foam, which often is used as insulating material for buildings and in the cold [products shipping] chain helping to save CO2 emissions and reduce energy consumption during its product life.” The cooperation marks the start of possible future collaborations between the three companies aimed at replacing fossil feedstocks with more sustainable ones in the production of polymers and chemicals in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. “With renewable solutions available, we are now entering the phase of scaling up their usage in the chemical industry,” says Mercedes Alonso, an executive vice president at Neste, which is involved in another large-scale renewable products effort in Singapore . “This will be crucial in replacing the vast amounts of fossil resources the industry is currently depending on. To make this ramp-up a success, we’ll need to establish collaborations along the value chain – and this one between three sustainability-minded partners is a prime example of how the industry can do just that.” Replacing crude oil-based feedstock with Neste RE provides a significant reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, say the companies, “thereby improving the carbon footprint of the polyurethane raw materials produced by Covestro and of downstream industries.” “I am much pleased that through this collaboration we continue to ramp up the market for such sustainable alternative materials,” says Sucheta Govil, chief commercial officer of Covestro. “This enables us to supply our customers in Asia-Pacific with more sustainable MDI based on mass-balanced raw materials.” Continues Govil, “Using such materials is attractive because it will also help them achieve their climate goals. Another core benefit of this line of products is that it is a technical drop-in solution that our customers can use immediately without a major changeover in their plants.” Comments Woohyuk-Choi, a vice president at SK geo centric, “We are delighted to ship and export our first renewable-benzene produced with 100 percent renewable Neste RE feedstock. SK geo centric will actively work with Covestro and Neste as we mark the first collaboration of this kind in the Asia-Pacific region. We remain committed to expanding this cooperation.” Under a strategy it calls “Green for Better Life,” SK geo centric has announced a target to become “net zero” before 2050. The company says it will drive its business transformation by expanding its renewable products portfolio, and that it will “respond to increasing global demands in the market by leveraging the strong synergies between collaboration partners.” packaging that enters the system is designed for or on a path to recyclability; and recycling has a sustainable public-private funding stream based on smart policy. With regard to economic impact, The Recycling Partnership has invested $95 million to date, accumulating $241 million in total value creation, including: $163 million in capital and state investments in recycling; $24 million in new recyclables collected; $19 million in technical assistance to cities and states; $16 million in carbon savings; $13 million in avoided landfill costs; and $6 million in member consulting. Solving with communities The state of Michigan, which established the goal of increasing statewide recycling from 14 percent in 2019 to 45 percent by 2030, is receiving assistance from The Partnership. The Partnership has provided support with contributions such as carts for curbside recycling, improved drop-off recycling, enhanced MRF operations and the Feet on the Street program to improve the quantity and quality of material captured. In the first year of this collaboration, contamination in curbside collection programs was reduced by 35 percent, while contamination in drop-off programs was reduced by 26 percent and participation across most involved communities increased by 10 percent. In Orlando, Florida, The Partnership focused on access to recycling for multifamily communities, which the organization says are among the most underserved in the U.S. The Partnership conferred a grant to the city that funded a full-time city employee to serve as a multifamily recycling project manager. Overall, the city added recycling services to 21,500 multifamily units in the first year of this four-year project. Increased participation in the city’s recycling program led to an additional 2.2 million pounds of recyclables diverted from landfills in the program’s first year. A $10 million-plus public-private partnership between Baltimore and The Recycling Partnership delivered nearly 200,000 free curbside recycling carts to households in the city. The report says this is the largest partnership to modernize recycling to date and enables safer and more efficient collection while minimizing waste in waterways. The amount of recovered recyclables is expected to increase by 80 percent, generating more than 40 million new valuable recyclables every year. The report notes the Recycling Inclusion Fund, a dedicated funding stream created by The Partnership that focuses on adapting the recycling industry through research, infrastructure and education and leadership opportunities in the Black, Indigenous and people of color, or BIPOC, community. Solving with MRFs To tackle aluminum can sorting problems, The Partnership launched an aluminum beverage can capture MRF grant program to invest in eddy-current separators, robotic sorters, other equipment and process improvement to capture more cans during the sortation process. Five grants were made to MRFs across the U.S. in 2021. Overall, the equipment installed at MRFs from the five 2021 can capture grants will result in an 71 million aluminum cans recycled every year, the report says. According to the Can Manufacturers Institute’s impact calculator, this will lead to an additional $1.15 million of revenue generated for the U.S. recycling system and energy savings that could power more than 28 million U.S. homes for one hour. The Partnership’s Polypropylene Recycling Coalition, founded in July 2020, has made more than $6 million in grants for sorting equipment at MRFs and consumer education programs in communities. These funds, the report says, will impact nearly 18 million Americans and improve curbside polypropylene recycling access for nearly 7 percent of U.S. households. Solving with materials manufacturers The Partnership leads three material-specific coalitions: The Polypropylene Recycling, the Film and Flexibles Recycling Coalition and the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) Recycling Coalition, formed in 2022. Advancing the recyclability of one material type improves the system for all by increasing the amount of material captured and reducing contamination, the organization says. Orange County, Florida, began to work with The Partnership in light of a nearly 40 percent contamination rate in its curbside recycling program. The program reduced contamination by 29 percent, improving material value by 23 percent and generating 40 million pounds of recyclables annually. Materials processed at the county’s MRFs increased tenfold from 2020 to 2021 as well. Based on the report, the program with the county has the potential to recover $3.6 million in recycled material value when implemented countywide. Solving with brands and retailers The Residential Recyclability Framework, a part of The Partnership’s Pathway to Circularity for Packaging that provides users a step-by-step process to assess packaging recyclability, was opened for public comment in August 2021. The Partnership received more than 750 individual comments from 70 organizations, which were incorporated to establish the Circular Packaging Assessment Tool, an interactive version of the framework. Another tool presented in the report is Plastic IQ, a free digital strategy-building tool that allows U.S. companies to discover ways to make their packaging more circular. Plastic IQ scores company strategies for effectiveness and provides a detailed summary of results for users. According to the report, Plastic IQ has gained 1,000 users in its first year. Solving with people   The Partnership is launching the Center for Sustainable Behavior & Impact. The Center will focus on expanding research on barriers and sentiments toward recycling, testing solutions to improve recycling behavior and creating a playbook and accompanying online tool to make best practices and key insights widely available. The report concludes with a three-year plan focused on transforming the U.S. recycling system and accelerating circular packaging systems of the future. Additional goals include: improved consumer participation and trust in recycling and improved recyclability claims and labeling; creation of new scalable and systematic approaches to recyclability for currently hard-to-recycle items; initiation of effective and efficient policy that improves recycling system performance; and transformation of thousands of packages to recyclability and reduction of tens of millions of pounds of packaging through improved designs.

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  • Where is The Environmental Research & Education Foundation's headquarters?

    The Environmental Research & Education Foundation's headquarters is located at 3301 Benson Drive, Raleigh.

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