On America Recycles Day – Are You Recycling Right?

Bloomington-Normal, IL-  Nov. 15, 2018 –  On America Recycles Day, local government leaders, multiple organizations and the waste industry, are asking consumers if they are recycling right.  Based on audits performed by the recycling industry, one in four items placed in the recycling cart is not recyclable which has led to increased contamination.

To tackle the issue of recycling contamination, the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) and Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) formed a state-wide task force to bring the recycling industry – haulers and sorting facility operators – together with government and business to develop simple, cohesive recycling education materials to help residents better understand what items should and should not be placed in recycling carts.

“Recycling is more highly contaminated with non-recyclable garbage than ever before,” said Walter Willis, SWALCO executive director and co-chair of the NWRA – SWANA task force.  “The non-recyclable items weigh down sorting facilities, reduce commodity prices, and affect the re-manufacturing markets,” continued Willis.

“Recycling facilities report contamination from 25% to over 35% in some of the recycling streams,” said Lisa Disbrow, vice chair of the Illinois Chapter of NWRA and co-chair of the NWRA and SWANA task force. “As recycling facilities add labor to help remove contamination and slow lines to improve recovery, these additional costs are passed along which may increase costs for local governments, and ultimately residents,” commented Disbrow.

The task force identified the most common items placed in the recycling cart that are not recyclable including plastic bags, tanglers (i.e. garden hoses, wire, cords, clothing), food waste, medical waste including syringes, and batteries.  As a result of the task force discussions, guidelines were developed to represent the common recycling denominators of all programs throughout the state, and the goal is to have them as go-to guidelines for all programs, all haulers, and all educators throughout the state. Participating in the discussions at the task force, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency developed and launched a new webpage this month to answer recycling questions for Illinois residents: https://www2.illinois.gov/epa/topics/waste-management/Pages/recycling.aspx

“Plastics are the most commonly misunderstood items,” explained Marie Streenz, Operations Analyst with Midwest Fiber Recycling in Normal. “The resin identification code number in the triangle does not mean that a plastic object is recyclable!  Plastic containers – bottles, tubs, jugs and jars – are the only plastic items recyclable in your curbside carts. Please keep all flexible plastic packaging, pouches, bags, and wraps out of your recycling!”

To both reduce contamination and simplify the message, a streamlined recycling flyer has been developed that is virtually universal across Illinois.  “Beyond that, if local residents want detailed answers of what is and what is not recyclable, they can always call us at 309-454-3169 or check out our easy-to-use Recycle Coach app at RecycleBN.org,” said Michael Brown of the Ecology Action Center.

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Employment Opportunity: Part-time Program Coordinator

Program Coordinator – BNCESP

The Ecology Action Center is seeking a part-time Program Coordinator. The main responsibility of this position is coordinating the development of the Bloomington-Normal Community Energy Strategic Plan (BNCESP).  This is a short-term (approximately 4 months to 8 months), hourly position with no benefits.  The position is contingent upon program funding.

Major Responsibilities

  • Development of effective framework and realistic timeline for plan development process
  • Communication with stakeholder/focus groups
  • Preparation of initial materials for distribution to stakeholders defining roles, explaining process, identifying priorities, possible strategies, to include research into success emissions reduction strategies in other communities and summary of 2015 GHG Inventory findings
  • Creation of detailed written plan for municipal/public dissemination
  • Inclusion of NAAQS/ozone attainment status as a high priority objective within the BNCESP

Skills and Qualifications

  • Minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree.  Preferred course of study in Energy, Environmental Health, Environmental Studies or other environmental sciences major.
  • Understanding and ability to articulate energy issues, greenhouse gases, climate, etc.
  • Ability to quickly become familiar with relevant ICLEI GHG inventory protocols, & USDOE CESP standards
  • Excellent communication skills–both verbal and written
  • Ability to distill technical information and explain in layperson terms
  • High comfort level with learning/using new software (ClearPath from ICLEI)
  • Excellent organization skills
  • Familiarity with MS Excel, MS Word, MS Publisher

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

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.

To Apply

Send a resume with a completed EAC Employment Application and cover letter to Executive Director Michael Brown at [email protected] or Ecology Action Center, 202 W College Ave, Normal, IL 61761.  Position open until filled; please submit an application by Wednesday, October 17 2018 to be considered for the initial round of interviews.

Employment Opportunity: Part-time Administrative Assistant

Administrative Assistant

The Ecology Action Center is seeking a part-time Administrative Assistant. This position has responsibilities including financial, clerical, publications management, and correspondence.  Position is contingent upon program funding.

Major Responsibilities

  • Maintains financial records including posting transactions
  • Prepares correspondence and manages filing
  • Manages print and electronic communications including newsletters, web content, quarterly and annual program reports, board reports, etc.
  • Planning and scheduling of meetings
  • Assists with communications on behalf of Executive Director

Specific duties

  • Pay vendor invoices in a timely manner
  • Pay debts as they come due for payment
  • Issue invoices to customers
  • Ensure that receivables are collected promptly
  • Record cash receipts and make bank deposits
  • Download bank statements monthly in a timely fashion for reconciliation prior to board meetings
  • Board meeting packet preparation
  • Maintain the petty cash fund
  • Assemble information for external auditors for the annual audit
  • Maintain an orderly accounting filing system
  • Provide clerical and administrative support to management as requested
  • Track donations, event sponsorships, and other contributions and provide donation acknowledgement correspondence with appropriate IRS approved wording for tax-deductions
  • Monitor office supply levels and reorder as necessary
  • Coordinate content for regular newsletters and other print and web publications; design, edit, and publish final materials
  • Help staff the office, assist visitors
  • Other duties as assigned

Qualifications

  • Minimum of an Associate’s degree or equivalent business experience, as well as a knowledge of bookkeeping and generally accepted accounting principles. Bachelor’s degree preferred.
  • Must have be experienced with QuickBooks accounting software and Microsoft Office.
  • Strong communication skills required, both written and verbal
  • Experience and high degree of comfort with web and computer technologies–spreadsheets, WordPress, databases, CRM, Adobe design software
  • Ability to lift up to 25 pounds

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

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.

To Apply

Send a resume with a completed EAC Employment Application and cover letter to Executive Director Michael Brown at [email protected] or Ecology Action Center, 202 W College Ave, Normal, IL 61761.  Position open until filled; please submit an application by Friday, October 5 2018 to be considered for the initial round of interviews.

Fall 2018 IEPA Household Hazardous Waste Collections Alert

America Recycles Day 2018 Update

Due to changes in certain recycling systems in Illinois, some of our historically successful recycling programs that have taken part in America Recycles Day are no longer practical to implement in the same way. These changes have imposed local limitations that will affect our ability to continue these events moving forward. As a result, we have come to the unfortunate decision to discontinue fall America Recycles Day and spring MEGA Recycling events. We sincerely thank our recycling partners for their assistance over the years and their ongoing dedication to providing these services to our community.

Please be on the lookout in November as we continue to highlight our community partners who provide these recycling services. Remember that items previously collected at these events may be dropped off year round at the appropriate locations. If you have questions regarding recycling options in McLean County, please visit RecycleBN.org or download the RecycleCoach app. For additional questions, you may contact the Ecology Action Center at 309-454-3169. Please note that this does not include Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection events which will continue under the McLean County HHW Fund. Our next anticipated HHW event will likely be in Fall 2019. For more information check out HHWMcLean.org

Ecology Action Center seeks nominations for McLean County Green Awards

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release
August 22, 2018

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 2018 awards, with recipients being named in November at the EAC’s annual fall wine-tasting fundraiser.

The McLean County Recycling and Waste Reduction 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 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 Monday, October 1 at 5 p.m. The recipients of the 2018 awards will be named at the EAC’s annual Sustainable Gourmet event on Thursday, November 8, 2018.

 

The sun shines for McLean County residents and business owners with new Solar Bloomington-Normal 2.0 program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Peter Murphy, [email protected] 414-988-7963
Larissa Armstrong, [email protected] 309-454-3169 x.15

McLean County, IL – May 7, 2018 – The Ecology Action Center (EAC) of Normal, IL, is partnering with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) to bring Solar Bloomington-Normal 2.0, the solar group buy program, back to McLean County. The program will help home, business, and farm owners throughout McLean County lower their electricity bills by making solar more accessible and affordable through the power of volume purchasing. “We are excited to partner with MREA again to bring the group buy back to McLean County, providing another opportunity to expand solar in our community! The 2016 program was a big success, and we are confident Solar Bloomington-Normal 2.0 will help our community continue to expand its sustainability efforts,” said Michael Brown, Executive Director for the Ecology Action Center.

The Solar Bloomington-Normal 2.0 group buy program will offer multiple free, public, one-hour informational sessions known as Solar Power Hours. Active community education about the benefits of solar is the core of the group buy program. Navigating the solar market can be intimidating, creating barriers for solar adoption. MREA and the EAC provide free information sessions to community members to answer any and all questions about installing solar. “The first step to participate in the program and ultimately decide whether to go solar is to attend a Solar Power Hour,” said Peter Murphy, Solar Program Manager for the MREA. “The presentation provides the kind of information on solar that could take an individual days or weeks to research otherwise.”

The program launches on Saturday, May 19 with a “solar open house” at the home of Eric Marshall, a participant in the 2016 program. It will be held from 10:00 a.m. to noon. The open house is a chance to see a solar array in action and ask questions, and will not feature the full Solar Power Hour presentation. The first Solar Power Hour will take place Thursday, May 24 at 6pm at the West Bloomington Revitalization Project (724 W. Washington St., Bloomington, IL).

“I invested in a solar array for my small farm as a way to contain future energy costs,” said Marshall. “I’m able to keep a shop climate controlled year-round, run a well pump for irrigation, and handle the load of shop tools while still accumulating energy credits on my power bill. The solar group buy process was straightforward and both StraightUp Solar and Corn Belt Energy were great to work with. With current incentives, it was an easy financial decision.”

More Solar Power Hours will take place throughout the county in the months leading up to the participation deadline of September 30, 2018; all are free and open to the public. Visit SolarBloomingtonNormal.com for a full list of Power Hour presentation dates and locations.

The MREA has managed several successful solar group buys throughout the Midwest, including one in Bloomington-Normal in 2016, and two in Champaign-Urbana. To select an installer for Solar Bloomington-Normal 2.0, MREA issued a request for proposals to solar installers in March. A local advisory committee reviewed proposals based on professional certification, experience, and cost. They selected StraightUp Solar, based in St. Louis with a branch office in downtown Bloomington. The advisory committee chose StraightUp Solar for Solar Bloomington-Normal 2.0 because of their high-quality solar installations, building science expertise, emphasis on customer service, and familiarity with the community. They are uniquely qualified to evaluate a homeowner’s energy needs, provide quality solar installations, and even provide a preliminary energy efficiency assessment for each participant.

The Solar Bloomington-Normal program enables residents to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve local energy security through the generation of renewable energy while simultaneously conserving energy and reducing long-term energy costs at their homes or businesses.

For more information about the group buy and to sign up for updates, visit solarbloomingtonnormal.com.

Get ready to go solar!

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 MREA was incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit shortly after the first Energy Fair in 1990. MREA’s mission is to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable living through education and demonstration. To learn more, call 715-592-6595 or visit www.midwestrenew.org. 

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New recycling information flyer

The Ecology Action Center has published a new flyer with updated Bloomington-Normal recycling information in order to help reduce contamination.  “Wishful recycling” or lack of proper understanding of what can or cannot be recycled leads to contamination of our recyclables which reduces the value of these materials and weakens the recycling program.

See more information in the flyer below or by accessing EAC’s new recycling app–Recycle Coach at RecycleBN.org.

Bloomington-Normal Recycling Information Flyer–Reduce Contamination