Protect our local water supplies–curb your leaf piles

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release
October 30, 2017

Contact:   Michael Brown
Phone: (309) 454-3169 x.11

For many Bloomington-Normal residents, leaf-raking efforts are already underway. Per directions from both municipalities, leaves should not be raked into the street. In addition to being a possible safety issue, leaves can act as a storm water pollutant.  Washed into the storm sewer system and eventually into creek, streams, and lakes, the additional nutrients from the massive amounts of leaves breaking down can remove oxygen from the water, suffocating plants and wildlife.

The Ecology Action Center urges residents to help keep our local waters clean – by either composting leaves or piling them neatly near the curb for collection.  For additional information on composting contact the Ecology Action Center at (309) 454-3169 or consult ecologyactioncenter.org.

Information on protecting our local watersheds is available at the mCLEANwater.org website, a clearinghouse of local resources about our water and efforts to better protect it.

The Ecology Action Center is a not-for-profit environmental agency with a mission to inspire and assist residents of McLean County in creating, strengthening and preserving a healthy environment.  The EAC acts as a central resource for environmental education, information, outreach, and technical assistance in McLean County.

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Public comment period opens on proposed new 20 year solid waste management plan

Per the Illinois Solid Waste Planning and Recycling Act, each county shall have an official plan for management of the municipal solid waste (MSW) generated within its boundaries. The first McLean County Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan was adopted in October 1991. After some minor amendments, it was readopted in October 1992. Following that, the plan has been updated every five years as required, with plan updates being adopted in 1997, 2002, 2007, and 2012.

The Ecology Action Center acts as the solid waste agency for McLean County, the City of Bloomington, and Town of Normal, providing services including recycling education and outreach, household hazardous waste coordination, and solid waste planning. At the direction of the McLean County Solid Waste Technical Committee in November 2015, the Ecology Action Center staff began work not on the usual five-year update, but rather a new 20-year solid waste plan for the community.

A new waste plan is necessary due to the significant changes that have occurred since the development of the original plan in 1991. In addition to substantial improvements in recycling technology, infrastructure, and residential practices, other variables have shifted, such as commodity markets and landfill capacity. The McLean County Landfill is currently estimated to reach capacity and begin closure in the first quarter of 2018.

Per the Illinois Solid Waste Planning and Recycling Act, each solid waste management plan shall conform to the waste management hierarchy and include the following provisions:

  • Description of the origin, content and weight or volume of municipal waste currently generated within the county’s boundaries, and the origin, content, and weight or volume of municipal waste that will be generated within the county’s boundaries during the next 20 years, including an assessment of the primary variables affecting this estimate and the extent to which they can reasonably be expected to occur.
  • A description of the facilities where municipal waste is currently being processed or disposed of and the remaining available permitted capacity of such facilities.
  • A description of the facilities and programs that are proposed for the management of municipal waste generated within the county’s boundaries during the next 20 years, including, but not limited to their size, expected cost and financing method.
  • An evaluation of the environmental, energy, life cycle cost and economic advantages and disadvantages of the proposed waste management facilities and programs.
  • A description of the time schedule for the development and operation of each proposed facility or program.
  • The identity of potential sites within the county where each proposed waste processing, disposal and recycling program will be located or an explanation of how the sites will be chosen. For any facility outside the county that the county proposes to utilize, the plan shall explain the reasons for selecting such facility.
  • The identity of the governmental entity that will be responsible for implementing the plan on behalf of the county and explanation of the legal basis for the entity’s authority to do so.

In addition, adoption and updating of the solid waste plan must adhere to the following requirements:

  • Prior to adoption by the governing body of the county, the county shall submit copies of the proposed plan for review and comment to the Agency, all municipalities within the county, all areawide planning agencies and the county health department.
  • The county shall also make the proposed plan available for public review and comment. The period for review and comment shall be 90 days. The county shall hold at least one public hearing on the proposed plan during this period. The plan subsequently submitted to the governing body of the county for adoption shall be accompanied by a document containing written responses to substantive comments made during the comment period.
  • The governing body of the county shall adopt a plan within 60 days from the end of the public comment period. Within 10 days of adoption, the plan shall be submitted to the Agency for review.
  • Each county waste management plan shall be updated and reviewed every 5 years, and any necessary or appropriate revisions shall be submitted to the Agency for review and comment.

Accordingly, the following timeline is planned for the approval process:

  • August 30, 2017: Present Solid Waste Plan to McLean County Solid Waste Technical Committee for review and approval.
  • September 7, 2017: Present Solid Waste Plan to McLean County Land Use Committee as an informational item.
  • October 4, 2017: Present to the McLean County Regional Planning Commission for review and comment.
  • October 5, 2017: McLean County Land Use Committee reviews Solid Waste Plan, begins 90-day public comment period. Post Solid Waste Plan to McLean County Website, Ecology Action Center website, and provide hard copies for review in McLean County Clerk’s office. Distribute to McLean County municipalities outside Bloomington-Normal for review and comment.
  • October 9, 2017: Present to the Bloomington City Council for review and comment.
  • October 16, 2017: Present to Normal Town Council for review and comment.
  • December 7, 2017: Mclean County Land Use Committee holds public hearing on Solid Waste Plan (3:30 p.m. in Room 400 at the Government Center, 115 E Washington Street, Bloomington, Illinois)
  • January 4, 2018: McLean County Land Use Committee concludes public comment period on Solid Waste Plan. Ecology Action Center provides response to substantive comments on plan. McLean County Land Use Committee considers plan for approval.
  • January 15, 2018: Normal Town Council considers Solid Waste Plan for approval.
  • January 16, 2018: McLean County Board considers Solid Waste Plan for approval.
  • January 22, 2018: Bloomington City Council considers Solid Waste Plan for approval.
  • January 31, 2018: Solid Waste Plan submitted to Illinois EPA.

The proposed plan is available for download as a pdf or is available in hard copy form upon request from the Ecology Action Center or the McLean County Clerk’s office.  Written comments about the plan may be submitted at the McLean County Clerk’s office through January 4, 2018.  Comments may also be submitted via email to Michael Brown at mbrown@ecologyactioncenter.org.  Submitter must include their full name and home address; please use subject line “solid waste plan public comment”.

Proposed 2017 Twenty-year Materials Recovery and Resource Conservation  Plan for McLean County, City of Bloomington, and Town of Normal, Illinois (pdf)

 

EAC Employment Opportunities: Education Coordinator and Assistant Director

The Ecology Action Center is seeking to fill up to two full-time positions:

Education Coordinator

This position is responsible for much of EAC’s education and outreach efforts related to solid waste and clean water topics including elementary school programs in all of the fourth grade classrooms in McLean County and all third grade classrooms in Bloomington and Normal.  Additional responsibilities include outreach via tabling events, coordination of educational workshops for composting and rain barrels, marketing of EAC programs and solid waste and clean water messages via traditional and social media, outreach projects like storm drain stenciling and creek clean ups, special event coordination, and other technical services.

Education Coordinator Job Description

Assistant Director

This position will combine several program-oriented roles with some management level responsibilities.  Candidates should possess a strong environmental health, energy efficiency, or environmental studies background along with skills and experience in finance, personnel management, excellent written and verbal communication skills, and familiarity with relevant technology and software.

Assistant Director Job Description

How to Apply

To apply for either position, candidates should complete an EAC Employment Application and submit it with a resume and cover letter to Executive Director Michael Brown at mbrown@ecologyactioncenter.org.  Both positions are open until filled but applicants should submit their application materials by October 6, 2017 to be considered for the first round of interviews.

Equal Opportunity

The EAC is an equal opportunity employer for all qualified employees and applicants. All decisions regarding employment are made without regard for race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, or physical and/or mental disability unrelated to ability.

 

Ecology Action Center Encourages “Carpooling” for Household Hazardous Waste Collection

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release
August 28, 2017

Contact: Michael Brown
Phone: (309) 454-3169 x.11

With less than two weeks to go until the September 9 Household Hazardous Waste Collection for McLean County residents, the Ecology Action Center is asking everyone to share a ride. The EAC’s Executive Director Michael Brown says, “Nobody likes to sit in line—but there’s not much we can do about it, right? Wrong. The single most important thing residents can do to help reduce wait times is to carpool their hazardous waste with that of their friends and neighbors”.
According to Brown, one vehicle carrying the hazardous materials from several households is much more time-efficient for the hazardous waste crews to unload than the same volume of materials transported in multiple cars. “So this also means much fewer cars, which means the lines will be both shorter and will move faster,” added Brown.
Under the regulations allowing for one-day HHW collections in Illinois, the EAC is restricted from directly organizing any transportation of hazardous materials. They can only collect it at the event and have it transported to processing/treatment facilities. But residents can organize on their own for carpooling of materials to the collection, whether it’s through their neighborhood association, informally through word-of-mouth, or through social media sites like Nextdoor.com and Facebook.
The McLean County Household Hazardous Waste collection event will be held on Saturday, September 9 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Rivian Automotive, located at 100 N. Mitsubishi Motorway in Normal. Residents must enter the facility using the south gate from West College Avenue instead of the west side entrances used in the past. Participation is limited to McLean County residents. Illinois regulations mandate that only residential HHW may be collected—no business or commercially generated wastes can be accepted.
In the past, state-sponsored HHW collections were a legal, safe, and reliable way of disposing of HHW in Illinois, but budget cuts resulted in the loss of state funding for five years. In 2012, the EAC and its partners decided that the community needed to take matters into its own hands. They developed a public-private partnership to cover the costs of holding a one-day collection. The unprecedented turnout at that event led local government partners to increase support for the 2015 collection. HHW collections are expensive; this year’s will cost as much as $180,000. The City of Bloomington, Town of Normal, and McLean County have provided $140,000. Current sponsors and event partners include Illinois Farm Bureau, Home Sweet Home Ministries, Midwest Fiber, WGLT, Radio Bloomington, Area Disposal, Henson Disposal, State Farm Insurance, and Republic Services.
The Ecology Action Center needs support from private individuals to make this a success. Donations to the McLean County HHW Fund may be made online at HHWmclean.org or by sending a check to the Ecology Action Center at 202 W College Avenue, Normal, IL 61761. The EAC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization; contributions and sponsorships are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law. Fundraising efforts will continue through the date of the HHW collection.
Details including what materials can and cannot be accepted at this event are available at HHWmcLean.org. Volunteers are still needed to help with traffic control at the event; signup is available online at the same address.
The Ecology Action Center is a not-for-profit environmental agency with a mission to inspire and assist residents of McLean County in creating, strengthening and preserving a healthy environment. The EAC acts as a central resource for environmental education, information, outreach, and technical assistance in McLean County.

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Ecology Action Center seeks nominations for McLean County Green Awards

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release
August 28, 2017

Contact:   Michael Brown
Phone:     (309) 454-3169 x.11

 

The Ecology Action Center presents the annual McLean County Green Awards to recognize local efforts to improve our environment.  Nominations are now being accepted for the 2017 awards, with recipients being named in October at the EAC’s annual fall wine-tasting fundraiser.

The McLean County Recycling Award identifies businesses, schools or organizations with outstanding recycling programs or waste reduction efforts or individuals who have played a role in a successful program or effort. While nominations will be accepted for any recycling or waste reduction project, areas of growing interest include source reduction of hazardous wastes or zero-waste programs.

The Anne McGowan Making a World of Difference Award recognizes outstanding projects, activities, or individuals in McLean County who promote environmental awareness or natural resource conservation. The EAC recently dedicated the World of Difference Award in memory of McGowan, an early director of the EAC, due to her ability to inspire and motivate others to take action.  Former EAC Executive Director Michelle Covi described Anne as a catalyst for action.

She was energetic and never hesitated to get her hands dirty. Her natural curiosity and love of the natural world fueled her passion for wildlife exploration and preservation. She shared her love with children and adults alike when she conducted nature walks, wildflower walks, and nature programs. She inspired and nurtured life-long dedication to environmental awareness and conservation in children, college students, and adults whose lives she touched.

In the spirit of Anne, the EAC seeks nominations of worthy projects, organizations, or individuals in nomination for the Anne McGowan Making World of Difference Award or the McLean County Recycling and Waste Reduction Award. Current EAC Executive Director Michael Brown suggested, “if more of us followed the outstanding example set by Anne McGowan, the world would be a much better place.”

Nominations may be made online at ecologyactioncenter.org/green-awards/ or by stopping by the Ecology Action Center at 202 W College Avenue in Normal; all submissions are due by Thursday, September 14 at 5 p.m. The recipients of the 2017 awards will be named at the EAC’s annual wine-tasting fundraiser at Epiphany Farms Restaurant on Thursday, October 12.

The Ecology Action Center is a not-for-profit environmental agency with a mission to inspire and assist residents of McLean County in creating, strengthening and preserving a healthy environment.  The EAC acts as a central resource for environmental education, information, outreach, and technical assistance in McLean County.

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Request for Proposals – Hazardous waste services

RE: Request For Proposals

To whom it may concern:

The Ecology Action Center of Normal, Illinois, is soliciting proposals for a fall 2017 Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event for the residents of McLean County, Illinois. Please download the
RFP from EAC 2017 HHW Collection RFP.

The Ecology Action Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit environmental agency in McLean County, Illinois. Among other roles, the EAC acts as the community solid waste agency for the City of
Bloomington, Town of Normal, and McLean County.

Sincerely,

Michael Brown
Executive Director

 

July 18, 2017 Update: Questions and Answers in Response to HHW RFP 7.18.17

Illinois Farm Bureau and Rivian Automotive sign on to support the HHW Fund

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release
May 23, 2017

Contact: Michael Brown
Phone:     (309) 454-3169

Early Support from New Major Partners: Rivian Automotive and Illinois Farm Bureau® Join McLean County Household Hazardous Waste Effort

Illinois Farm Bureau® (IFB) and Rivian Automotive have pledged their support for the tentative fall 2017 McLean County Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection event.  The Ecology Action Center recently launched its fundraising campaign for this public-private effort and IFB and Rivian both quickly joined the cause.  The Farm Bureau is acting as a major financial sponsor and Rivian will provide its grounds for the collection.

“Rivian is excited to be part of the community and to support this important service,” said RJ Scaringe, Founder and CEO of the company. “We are happy to share our facility and maintain the tradition of HHW collection events held here at the plant.”  Rivian recently purchased the former Mitsubishi Motors North America plant where it will house the manufacturing operations of their forward-thinking automotive company.

”We realize that local residents – who want to do the right thing – have few options to safely dispose of household hazardous waste. Doing so is expensive,” said IFB president Rich Guebert, Jr. “Partnering with Ecology Action Center and others gives us a chance to support, in a very meaningful way, the community that IFB has called home for more than 50 years,”

The Ecology Action Center held household hazardous waste collection events at what was then Mitsubishi Motors North America in 2015 and 2013, after outgrowing the Interstate Center at the first locally funded event there in 2012.  As the solid waste agency for McLean County, Bloomington, and Normal, the EAC is responsible for coordinating Household Hazardous Waste Collection for the community.  However, the traditional funding for these events through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) has become very irregular and infrequent. 

After annual HHW collections funded by the IEPA from 2003 to 2007, the state reduced funding for the program and McLean County did not receive a HHW event for five years.  As a result, the EAC, with support from McLean County, the City of Bloomington, and the Town of Normal created the McLean County HHW Fund as a public-private partnership.  In 2012 the Ecology Action Center raised over $160,000 in contributions and in-kind services to hold the first-ever locally funded HHW collection in central Illinois.  This effort resulted in the largest HHW event to-date for McLean County as thousands of households sought to dispose of a backlog of hazardous waste.

This unique and wildly successful funding strategy drew recognition ranging from an Honorable Mention among the 2013 Governor’s Sustainability Awards to the McLean County Chamber of Commerce Green Excellence Award and recognition from the Illinois Recycling Association.

The fall 2017 collection will be the third locally funded event; under an agreement between the EAC, McLean County, the City of Bloomington, and the Town of Normal, the public entities provide about 80% of the funding needed to put on a one-day HHW collection for McLean County residents.  The EAC is responsible for raising the rest of the necessary funds through private contributions and commercial sponsorships.  The EAC has set a fund raising goal for the 2017 HHW Fund of $35,000 to allow for a growing awareness of the need for proper hazardous waste disposal and relative possible increase in attendance at the fall HHW collection.

Improper disposal of household hazardous wastes pollutes our local water supplies and environment.  Whether it is thrown out with regular trash going to a municipal waste landfill, dumped illegally down the drain, storm sewer, or in a ditch, these actions compromise the safety of drinking water thereby threatening the health and well-being of area residents.

More information on hazardous waste disposal and nonhazardous waste disposal are available at HHWmclean.org or by calling 369-454-3169.  Free resources include a notification email list for HHW updates, instructions on disposal of nonhazardous latex paint, suggestions on alternative (non-hazardous) products, and information on the EAC’s Yard Smart program, promoting sustainable landscaping and gardening with less synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

The Ecology Action Center is a not-for-profit environmental agency with a mission to inspire and assist residents of McLean County in creating, strengthening and preserving a healthy environment.  The EAC acts as a central resource for environmental education, information, outreach, and technical assistance in McLean County.

The Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a national organization of farmers and ranchers. Founded in 1916, IFB is a non-profit, membership organization directed by farmers who join through their county Farm Bureau. IFB has a total membership of more than 400,000 and a voting membership of  80,000. IFB represents three out of four Illinois farmers.

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2016 EAC Annual Report

The Ecology Action Center’s annual compilation of program activities for 2016 is now available online.

Ecology Action Center 2016 Annual Report