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.

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.

Microplastics: A Macro Problem for the Environment


The Future of Microplastics

Jan 15, 2015 at 1:00 PM Central Time

Microplastic pollution is a global dilemma that has received an increasing amount of attention over the years due to the harmful effects being caused to the aquatic environment. Microbeads fall under the category of microplastic pollution found in many personal hygiene / beauty products. Due to its miniscule size, fish and other aquatic animals mistake the microbeads for food. Microbeads are capable of absorbing persistent organic pollutants which can affect both the fish consuming the microbead as well as humans consuming the tainted fish. Studies are being conducted to determine if Publically Owned Treatment Works (POTW’s) have the technology in place in order to filter the microbeads. Environmentally favored alternatives are being considered for future implementation as well.

Register for webinar:


Permeable Pavement Webinars for Designers and Installers – January 22 and February 17, 9:00am to noon

More architects and builders are specifying permeable pavement for managing stormwater runoff. Join WI-DNR and UW-Extension for a two part webinar training focused on this rapidly expanding and evolving subject with special emphasis on understanding Wisconsin’s new standard for permeable pavements and in-depth discussions covering how to plan, design, install and maintain these pavement systems in the Badger State.

View the webinar Brochure:  Permeable Pavement Training 2015-3

MnTAP Announces Healthcare Pollution Prevention Website

From MnTAP email announcement:

The Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) is excited to launch a new healthcare industry portal to connect industry with pollution prevention and waste regulatory resources. To access these resources, visit http://mntap.umn.edu/health/index.htm

MnTAP has been working with the healthcare industry since the late 1990s and can provide assistance to help you increase resource efficiency, reduce waste, reduce costs, and increase regulatory compliance. MnTAP has worked with a range of healthcare facilities including hospitals, surgery centers, clinical laboratories, dental offices, family practice and specialty clinics, imaging and radiology, long-term care, pharmacies, and veterinary clinics.
The new information is easily navigable by topic or by type of facility. Topics include regulatory resources focused on waste and sustainability resources on topics like infection prevention, energy efficiency, and waste reduction and recycling.
A full press release can be found at: http://www.mntap.umn.edu/news/releases/112414_HealthcareWeb.html

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