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State Electronics Challenge — Has your Agency Joined?

Celebrating two years as a national program, the State Electronics Challenge is now working with 112 Partner organizations from around the country—and more are joining almost weekly.

sec-logoThe State Electronics Challenge (SEC) is a free program that encourages state, regional, tribal, and local governments, including schools and other public entities, to demonstrate environmental sustainability and reduce costs by "greening" the management of their office equipment.

Why Office Equipment? Computers are the poster-child for environmental concern. They are ubiquitous, pervasive and constantly changing. Computers, monitors, copiers and printers contain toxic materials; they are heavy users of energy and paper and are often hard to recycle. Nearly everyone has seen or heard about the negative practices in end-of-life scenarios for electronics. The SEC offers a positive strategy for addressing the problem.

Partners are state…

CRT Glass Recycling — Today and Future Options

The Consumer Electronics Association revealed the results of a recent national survey of electronics recyclers conducted by the Northeast Recycling Council, Inc. on CRT glass management in the U.S., at a meeting yesterday with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. and the Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse.

Food Recovery — An Important Step along the Organics Management Path

Food Donation

Food “waste” is often not “waste,’ but discarded food that is nutritional and safe to use.  In 2011, more than 20% of American households were either food insecure at least some time during the year or had very low food security, where insufficient money or household resources lead to food intake reductions and eating pattern disruptions.[1]  Promotion of food donation is one way that rural and small towns can work to reduce and better manage food discards, while also providing social benefits for the community.

A food bank is typically a charitable organization that solicits and warehouses donated food and other items. Collected food is distributed to community agencies which serve people in need, often servicing hundreds of community-based organizations in large geographic areas. Food banks will usually accept foods that are packaged or can be stored for a period of time.  Food recovery or rescue programs (often affiliated with homeless shelters) usually redistribute perishable foods locally, such as already prepared food from caterers, restaurants, and cafeterias.

Businesses benefit from food donation through…

Managing Organics — Low Cost Organics Reduction

The organics management hierarchy starts with reducing organics at the source through smart landscaping, grasscycling, leaf mulching, and food waste reduction. Keeping organics onsite—at residences, schools, institutions, government buildings, and businesses—or not producing them in the first place, offers the most cost effective management solution for communities. These practices save money by reducing municipal leaf and yard waste management and collection needs.

Smart Landscaping

Landscaping that incorporates local and regional native plants (xeriscaping) and "edible landscapes" results in less yard waste. Smart landscapes are easier to maintain, typically healthier and more resilient, tend to be better adapted to local soil conditions and climate, and offer benefits to local wildlife. Encouraging residents to plan lawns in accordance with their family needs (e.g., smaller lawns if there are no children in the family) can significantly reduce maintenance, fertilizer applications, and grass clippings generation.


During the growing season as much as half or more of yard waste is grass clippings.…

Managing Organics — We Can Do Better! Part 2

Strategies that Support Organics Management Practices

Rural, semi-rural, and small towns often face challenges to implementing organics diversion and composting programs. Challenges range from a lack of information about program opportunities, to concerns about costs, and compliance with state requirements for compost operations. There are many factors that contribute to developing a successful program. Securing the support of decision makers, as well as the citizenry, is a first step for moving forward. And, a successful program must be tailored to meet the needs of each community.

Decision makers and the public may need to be persuaded of the value in adding organics management as an undertaking for their community. They may feel the program isn't needed or that organics management is too costly. These negative attitudes can have many roots, but generally it is the result of a lack of information about the amount of organics being thrown in the trash or "managed" through backyard burning, and the associated wasted resources to the community. As a result, the potential benefits and economic growth opportunities through improved organics management are overlooked.