New Round of EREF Grants Targets Three Waste Industry Project

The Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF), Washington, D.C., awarded more than $320,000 in waste research grants and scholarships in Aug. 2001.

This included giving $185,000 to URS Dames and Moore, London, United Kingdom, to research the regulatory, economic and technical aspects of greenhouse gas emission reductions in the waste industry; $38,000 to Case Western University, Cleveland, to develop an electronic nose technology applied to landfill odors to provide a “fingerprint” and the concentration of various landfill odors; and $100,000 to the Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle, to investigate native and engineered yeast strains to determine the best way to produce ethanol through waste fermentation.

Other current EREF grants include $500,000 to Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., to design and operate a bioreactor landfill cell and quantify its emissions; $117,625 to North Carolina State University, Raleigh, to develop a global assessment of recycling policies and markets; and $215,000 to SCS Engineers, Reston, Va., to investigate the use of a biologically active landfill cap to reduce air emissions from a municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill.

EREF project committee members meet three times annually to review grant and scholarship applications. The committee uses a scoring matrix to recommend grants based on its overall ratings. Recipients then develop a project plan with timelines, and EREF tracks the grants and meets with recipients, if needed, to extend timelines or discuss project strategies. “We look at final reports and become very involved in projects,” says Michael Cagney, EREF president. “It's not just a ‘hand the money over’ deal.”

To determine grant amounts, EREF's board of directors decides how much money will be available based on its anticipated revenue for that year. For 2001, the grant budget totaled $1.2 million. From its inception in 1992 until 2000, grants totaled about $1 million, according to EREF. “This past year, we have come of age,” Cagney says.

Grant money comes from private donors, federal agencies, and income and interest from the foundation's portfolio. For example, EREF was awarded its second Susan Harwood training grant from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Washington, D.C., to provide ergonomics education and prevention training for solid waste employees. The $56,330 grant was given to the EREF, which is part of the Environmental Industry Associations (EIA), Washington, D.C., specifically to develop Web-based ergonomics training seminars; present a full-day ergonomics session during WasteExpo 2002, Las Vegas; continue development of the industry's Best Management Practices (BMPs) for preventing ergonomics injuries; and create and maintain a comprehensive database on ergonomic issues.

EREF also holds an equipment auction at WasteExpo every year that yields an average of $500,000, which is used for project funding as well as for the organization's operating expenses.

The foundation also awards scholarships each year to Ph.D. students. In 2001, two Fiessinger Environmental Science Scholarship Grants were given in honor of waste industry scientist Dr. Francois Fiessinger — $28,000 to Alexander Orlov to conduct research on new methods for groundwater cleanup at Cambridge University, United Kingdom; and $36,000 to Richard Statom to conduct research on the evolution of leachate and the hydrology of landfills at the Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colo.

EREF funds projects in several areas of solid waste management, including waste generation and composition; waste minimization; collection and transport; sorting, recycling and remanufacture; disposal options; waste and energy recovery; employee health and safety; waste management lifecycle assessment; and educational program development.

For more information on EREF's grants, contact Ed Repa, director of environmental programs, toll-free at (800) 424-2869, or visit EREF's website at