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 PUBLICATIONSYou can also print out our SHWEC Overiew publication to learn more about the center and the work we do.

Jumping Worms – Amynthas Species – Invasive Species of Concern

Compost and yard material managers in Wisconsin have another invasive species that they should be looking for. Jumping worms (Amynthas spp.) were first discovered in Wisconsin in fall of 2013 and are a concern as they can rapidly consume forest leaf litter. After the leaf litter is gone the forest is then vulnerable to erosion and other non-native plants resulting in a change to the local ecosystem. The worms also known as “crazy worms” or “Alabama jumpers” do not survive Wisconsin winters but their cocoons do.

An article, Jumping Worms, in the June edition of the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine provides more about the impacts of this worm species. Compost facility operators and yard waste drop-off sites should be aware of what this worm looks like and put measures in place to prevent the inadvertent spread. The Wisconsin DNR has developed some Best Management Practices to minimize the spread of invasive species.



Coal-Tar-Sealant Runoff Causes Toxicity and DNA Damage

A new study by the US Geological Survey found that stormwater runoff from pavement that had been coated with coal-tar-based sealcoat is toxic to aquatic life, damages DNA, and impairs DNA repair. For more details see:  http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=4190#.VS5nbZNuMb-

Green Chemistry for Academic Labs webinars

The University of Washington Dept of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS) is sponsoring two webinars on the “greening” of their laboratories on March 31 and April 28. The webinars will cover the successes, challenges, and lessons learned from a project to assess and improve the sustainability metrics of DEOHS laboratories.


What is a SHWEC?

The staff of UW-Extension’s Solid & Hazardous Waste Education Center have been working on a needs assessment over the course of the last year to identify how we can best serve our stakeholders needs. One of the needs identified is to improve how we share what SHWEC is and what we do. In response to this need we have put together a SHWEC Overview document to introduce people to SHWEC and share some of our impacts. This certainly is not a comprehensive document, but we will continue to work to improve our efforts to connect with our stakeholders and telling our story. If you want more detailed information about our impacts visit the publications page on our main website and enter the key word “activity”. This will link to our annual reports that tell the SHWEC story.

Joe Van Rossum, Center Director

New Web Resource for Safer Chemical Substitution & Alternatives Assessments

A publicly available website has been developed that contains resources relevant to safer chemical substition and alternatives assessments. Alternative assessments are processes for identifying, comparing and selecting safer alternatives to replace hazardous chemicals with the objective of promoting sustainable production and consumption. This web portal was a collaboration between SHWEC, US EPA and the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).

OECD Substitution & Alternatives Assessment Toolbox


Industrial Painting: Lower Cost, Better Finish, Cleaner Air

The Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) is hosting a 3-part webinar series on industrial painting, starting January 21. This webinar series consists of short presentations on both large and small changes you can make to improve your painting processes, including equipment, paint formulations and application techniques.

Over a quarter-million tons of plastic pollution found in oceans

“Plastic pollution is globally distributed across all oceans due to its properties of buoyancy and durability.”  These polymers  can be detrimental to aquatic species through ingestion and entanglement, a danger to swimmers, divers and boaters and just a plain eye-sore.  “The sorption of toxicants to plastic while traveling through the environment have led some researchers to claim that synthetic polymers in the ocean should be regarded as hazardous waste.” A recently completed study estimates that over 5 trillion plastic particles weighing about 269,000 tons are floating in the world’s oceans.

MN Paint & Powder Expo March 19

For more information see:


EXPO Technical

Midwest Bioeconomy & Safer Products Summit Registration is Open

Mark your calendar for the Midwest Bioeconomy & Safer Products Summit!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Pohlad Hall, Minneapolis Central Library

Minneapolis, MN

The afternoon keynote, “The Journey to Expand Sustainable Products at Target and Across the Industry,” will be presented by Kate Heiny, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, Target.

The keynote will focus on Target’s commitment to expand the selection of sustainable products options that effectively balance price, performance and convenience. She will share how the demand for more sustainable products is being driven by the consumer and highlight some of the most recent milestones that have been achieved at Target, including the Target Sustainable Product Standard and the Made to Matter program. Kate will also talk about the ground-breaking work at the Beauty and Personal Care Products Sustainability Summit – a recent even co-hosted by Target and Walmart and facilitated by Forum for the Future – to accelerate a conversation about product sustainability.

You can learn more about the Summit and register to attend at the Minnesota Green Chemistry Forum website. 

Master Composter Program Dates Set for 2015

The locations for the Wisconsin Master Composter Program initial training workshops have been set for the Spring of 2015. Workshops will be held in three locations this year around the state. The Master Composter program is a train-the-trainer program that aims to build the capacity of composters to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for composting with others. In order to become a certified Master Composter trainees must attend the one-day workshop and complete three outreach activities.

The composters who participate in the program will gain a more thorough understanding of the composting process as well as common uses for compost. The program also provides an introduction to vermicomposting and techniques to reduce the amount of waste generated. Most importantly Master Composter trainees will learn strategies that will enable them to share their knowledge and interest in composting with others.

Workshops are held in partnership with the following County Extension Offices on the dates indicated.

The local workshop host will be handling registrations as well as selecting the location for the program in their counties.
For additional information about the scheduled workshops or the Master Composter Program please contact Joe Van Rossum, SHWEC Recycling Specialist: joseph.vanrossum@ces.uwex.edu.
University of Wisconsin-Extension

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