Welcome to SHWEC’s Blog

Welcome to the Solid & Hazardous Waste Education Center’s Blog. SHWEC staff post information and updates related to the center’s programs and areas of expertise. This is where we share information, resources and other items in a timely manner. Please consider subscribing to either our RSS feed or use the Subscribe 2 function. These tools allow posts to this site to be sent directly to you.

Also, please be sure to visit our traditional WEBSITE to learn more about SHWEC programs and review our many PUBLICATIONS.

Pollution Prevention Week – Resources from NPPR

Pollution Prevention Week begins the third Monday in September. The 2014 P2 Week theme is: Pollution Prevention: The Clear Choice for Environmental Sustainability. The National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) has prepared a toolkit to assist organizations in their planning and communication for Pollution Prevention Week. This toolkit contains ideas for social media messages, links to websites with information about safe chemicals, sample press releases, recipes for home cleaning and alternative yard care. Through sharing information provided in this toolkit, we hope the general public and others can reduce the use of harmful chemicals and switch to safer chemicals for daily use. The toolkit is available at:


The Great Lakes Pollution Prevention Roundtable has created a calender of P2 Week  meetings and webinars. See:




PSI to hose Webinar on EPR for Tires

Is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) a solution to illegal tire dumping? The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) is hosting a webinar on September 30th will feature a panel of experts to discuss the impacts of illegal tire dumping and why EPR could could be the answer above and beyond voluntary efforts. The 90 minute program will begin at 2:00pm (ES) with presentations by three speakers followed by questions. Further information and registration can be found on the PSI website: EPR as a Solution to Illegal Tire Dumping – Product Stewardship Institute (PSI)

Climate Resources for Outreach Professionals

If you are an outreach educator programing in the areas of:

  • Economic Development
  • Ecosystem Management
  • Invasive Species Management
  • Land Use
  • Water Quality

and are looking for locally relevant information on climate change or adaptation to incorporate into programs you already deliver, the Great Lakes Regional Water Program has created a listing of information resources for you.

Each of these resources is scientifically accurate, practical, and easy to find. Most come from government agencies and all are recommended by Extension staff. They are publications, annotated slides, videos, posters, or webinars that you can use as background information or as educational materials to insert into programs you develop.

To download the resource lists for your programming area, visit:


Burning Garbage is a Source of Global Air Pollution

A new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) estimates that the more than 40 percent of the world’s garbage that is burned is emitting gases and particles that can substantially affect human health. “Air pollution across much of the globe is significantly underestimated because no one is tracking open-fire burning of trash,” said NCAR scientist Christine Wiedinmyer, lead author of the new study. “The uncontrolled burning of trash is a major source of pollutants, and it’s one that should receive more attention.”

For information on garbage burning in Wisconsin see:



Study Title: Global Emissions of Trace Gases, Particulate Matter, and Hazardous Air Pollutants from Open Burning of Domestic Waste
Authors: Christine Wiedinmyer, Robert J. Yokelson, and Brian K. Gullett
Publication: Environmental Science and Technology
doi: 10.1021/es502250z

NCAR News Release:



Climate Change Programs Iowa County

A program UWEx delivered on Climate Change was a series of talks in Iowa County winter 2014 under the heading “Floods, Droughts, Land and Energy: What Is Wisconsin’s Future”. They were captured in a series entitled Digging in the Driftless and appeared in the Dodgeville Chronicle.

David Liebl – How Will Global Warming Affect Wisconsin http://www.thedodgevillechronicle.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=8&ArticleID=4519

Sherrie Gruder – Wisconsin’s Energy Profile – How do we move to a low-carbon economy http://digginginthedriftless.com/2014/02/19/we-all-have-a-role-to-play-in-how-we-create-and-use-enegry/

John Young – The Challenge of Understanding Wisconsin Impacts in a Changing Climate – Learning from the Past, Estimating the Future.

This educational series was sponsored by Iowa County Emergency Management, Iowa County UW-Extension, Grassroots Citizens of Wisconsin, Sustain Iowa County and Driftless Area Land Conservancy.

Wisconsin Electric Rate Restructuring Webinar: What are the Costs?

Wisconsin Electric Rate Restructuring Webinar: What are the Costs?
Hosted by UW-Extension

Wednesday, September 03, 2014
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. CST

Webinar is free. Please register here to attend. See registration information below.
Register before September 2, 5:00 pm

Sherrie Gruder, Sustainable Design Specialist/Energy Program Coordinator, UW-Extension

Steve Kihm, Principal and Chief Economist, Energy Center of Wisconsin
Bert Garvin, Senior Vice President External Affairs, Wisconsin Energy Corp
Ashley Brown, Executive Director, Harvard Electricity Policy Group
Chuck McGinnis, Sr. Director-North America State Government & Higher Education Building Efficiency, Johnson Controls Inc.
Brad Klein, Senior Attorney, Environmental Law & Policy Center 
Tyler Huebner, Executive Director, RENEW Wisconsin

About this webinar
Several Wisconsin electric utilities propose fundamental changes in their pricing to prepare for what they see as an increasingly competitive marketplace, one in which more customers will generate at least some of their own power from renewable sources like solar and biogas. These changes would noticeably increase bills for customers who use less than average amounts of power and substantially lower bills for high users. The pricing changes would make renewable resources less attractive financially and would significantly reduce the incentive for customers to use energy more efficiently. Also, some utilities are proposing rule changes that would further restrict the ability of customers to install renewable energy generation. The utilities argue that their proposed changes would not only allow them to recover their system costs with greater certainty, but would also more fairly allocate those costs among their customers.

The Public Service Commission, in the next few months, will hear these arguments and then determine whether these requests are reasonable and in the public interest. Currently, the PSC is accepting public comment.

If you buy power from WPS, We Energies or MGE, you should know how their impending electric rate restructuring cases could impact you. This webinar will inform those in the energy and building industries and government and policy arenas as well. By viewing this webinar, you will learn from a distinguished panel of experts on both sides of the debate. They will discuss the proposed rate structure changes, the issues underlying them, possible alternative approaches, and their potential impacts on energy efficiency, renewable energy and your bottom line.

The presentations will be followed by an interactive Q&A with the moderator and the speakers.

Register online here to participate in this webinar.

After registering you will receive a confirmation e-mail containing information about joining the webinar.

WARM Version 13 Released by EPA

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the release of an updated version or their Waste Reduction Model or WARM. This model allows decision makers to compare life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) and energy implications for various materials management options or common municipal solid waste materials. This new version incorporates several changes to reflect recent developments in life-cycle inventory data. Based upon EPA’s email announcing the release the landfilling and composting pathways have undergone significant revisions. The model can be found online at: http:www.epa.gov/warm.

Are there Toxic Flame Retardants in your Home?

Flame retardants are compounds added to commercial and consumer products that inhibit, suppress, or delay the production of flames to prevent the spread of fire. There are several categories of retardants, but two types, organohalogens and organophosphorous, are toxic. They are often associated with serious health and environmental concerns including disruption of hormones, developmental and reproductive problems; they do not readily break down into safer chemicals and accumulate in body tissue (bioaccumulate). Major uses of flame retardant chemicals are in electronics, building insulation, polyurethane foam and wire/cable.

Due to flammability standards, furniture made with fabrics and foams (including carpeting) often contain flame retardants. For example, the foam of 101 American couches bought between 1984-2010 were tested; 85% of the couches contained toxic or inadequately tested flame retardant chemicals.

Duke University (Durham, NC) is conducting a study to determine the prevalence and type of flame retardants used in furniture and help you find out what chemicals may be present in the furniture in your home. Foam samples from your home will be analyzed and you will be sent the results. For more information, click here.

Information about flame retardants and reducing  your exposure to them in your home have been published by both Duke University and the Green Science Policy Institute at the University of California – Berkeley (fact sheet).

FTC Green Guides Explained – Webinar

The National Recycling Coalition and the Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center are sponsoring a webinar that will explain how the Federal Trade Commissions “Green Guides” are designed. The Green Guides are intended to ensure claims about carbon offsets, “green” certifications and seals, and renewable and recycled material material claims are valid. Julia Solomon from the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection will be the main presenter.

The webinar will take place Tuesday July 15th at 12:30pm CST. You can register by following this link: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/907563313

Evaluating the Chemical Footprint of Plastics

Chemical foot- print can be defined “as the number and mass of chemicals of concern (COC, highly toxic chemicals) used in manufacturing and supply chains, and contained in the final product”. Chemical foot printing can be used as a process of assessing progress towards  the use of safer chemicals and away from COCs. The Plastics Scorecard (plasticsscoreracd14_bizngo ) was developed to evaluate the chemical footprint of plastics and as guidance in selecting safer alternatives.

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