The mission of the Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) is to advance scientific research and create educational pathways that enable sustainable innovation in sustainable waste management practices.
The EREF Board of Directors has set an initiative to ensure the research funded reflects EREF’s long-term strategic plan to address all areas of integrated solid waste management, with a strong focus towards research that increased sustainable solid waste management practices and has identified three key priorities that focus on the impacts of solid waste management, circular and sustainable materials management, and mitigating environmental risk and/or harm:
Climate Change Impacts/Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Quantification of greenhouse gas emissions, including direct measurement, modeling, data, and methodology; impacts and reduction strategies from waste management collection and disposal options, including waste-to-energy, landfill gas to energy, etc.; and impact of waste management activities, including how they related to broader emissions in manufacturing/re-manufacturing.
Emerging Contaminants: Potential impacts of emerging contaminants on waste management operations, including leachate disposal/treatment, composting facility operations, anaerobic digestion facilities, and digestate management; fate and transport/environmental and health impacts from emerging contaminants, including those managed by waste facilities; and best practices/effective management strategies during waste collection and disposal.
Advancing Materials Circularity and Recycling: Evaluation/efficacy of policies that impact waste management or circularity; assessment of trade-offs between environmental burdens associated with circular priorities (e.g., via LCA); and understanding barriers/benefits experienced across the value chain (e.g., end market, recycled content needs).
Submitted pre-proposals must relate to sustainable solid waste management practices and at least one of the three key priorities. The priorities are equally important, and proposals will not be rated more strongly for one priority area over another. Previously awarded grants have ranged from $15,000 to over $500,000, with the average grant amount in recent years being $160,000 and the typical project duration about two years.
EREF defines solid waste to include municipal solid waste (e.g., residential, commercial, institutional), construction and demolition debris, certain industrial wastes (e.g., exploration and production), drilling/fracking waste (e.g., oil/gas waste), renewable energy infrastructure (e.g., solar panels, wind turbines) and other wastes typically managed by the solid waste industry or generated by the public not included in the above items (e.g., electronic waste, disaster debris, etc.).
This definition does not include agricultural wastes (not handled by the waste industry), mining wastes managed by the mining industry (e.g., tailings), nuclear waste, and land-applied wastewater treatment sludge.
Eligible applicants include United States or non-U.S.-based institutions, and proposals will be accepted from non-academic institutions, provided the principal investigators are qualified to conduct the research. Principal investigators typically include full-time faculty at academic institutions, post-doctoral employees, and principals or senior personnel at non-academic institutions.
Pre-proposals will be accepted from 15 days before the deadline date and up to the close of business (5:00 p.m. ET) on the deadline date. Proposals must be received during this window to be considered.
Please contact Sara Salmon if you are interested in applying to this opportunity.