SSP January 2020

January, 2020 – Volume 13, Issue 1

Three things we can learn from the state’s e-scrap recycling program

Kentucky convent cutting carbon to fight climate change

UofL awards renewable energy prize to LED lighting pioneer


Why most US utilities are failing to make the most of their smart meters

Smithfield Foods generates renewable natural gas from wastewater to power North Carolina communities

Solar-powered barge a key ‘interceptor’ for plastic waste

GreenBiz: New tool from Ellen MacArthur Foundation aims to help companies measure circularity

Upcoming Training, Events and Conferences

Bluegrass Sustainability Summit

Plastics Recycling Conference and Trade Show

Global Waste Management Symposium 2020

Sustainability in Packaging Conference

ENERGY STAR and Green Building Rating Systems

ENERGY STAR – Portfolio Manager Webinars

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Three things we can learn from the state’s e-scrap recycling program

The aisles of PowerHouse Recycling’s facility in North Carolina are filled with pallets of discarded laptops, bulk bins of circuit boards and bales of plastic extracted from the electronics that organizations can no longer use.

For the past year and a half, this is where a large portion of the state’s electronics have been wiped of sensitive data, sorted and recycled. Because of its contract with PowerHouse, the state has been able to safely dispose of more than 566,000 pounds of e-waste — old computers, state-issued cell phones, tablets, CRT TVs and more.

Kentucky law does not specifically prohibit electronic waste from being tossed in the garbage, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to send e-scrap to the landfill.

“Some components of electronic waste can be hazardous,” said Gary Logsdon, who manages the Recycling and Local Assistance Branch within the Division of Waste Management. “For that reason, we don’t just want to throw this stuff out.”

Older computer monitors and televisions contain leaded glass. Printed circuit boards contain chromium, cadmium and sometimes mercury. Batteries can also contain hazardous materials that can contaminate soil and water.

In fact, many waste management companies and landfills in Kentucky won’t accept electronics. Though recycling old devices items is the best way to get rid of them, it requires care, Logsdon said.

The Division of Waste Management, in addition to advising local governments on issues such as e-waste disposal, is responsible for assisting in the recycling of electronic waste generated by agencies in the state government’s executive branch. And while the general public can’t utilize the state’s e-scrap recycling contract with PowerHouse, there are lessons we can learn from the partnership.

You can also find e-waste information specific to your county by contacting your local solid waste coordinator.

The three considerations that the state’s e-scrap recycling program has revealed are:

  1. Think about the electronic device’s reuse potential.
  2. Properly dispose of data.
  3. Be informed.

Read the full article to find out more about these three considerations learned from the state’s e-scrap recycling program.

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Kentucky convent cutting carbon to fight climate change

A convent of Roman Catholic sisters living near Bardstown, Kentucky have dedicated their lives to charity for the last 200 years. During the Civil War, they nursed wounded soldiers. During the HIV epidemic of the 1980s, they opened the first nursing home in Kentucky for AIDS patients.

Three years ago the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth made a new commitment: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2037 at their ministries in Kentucky and Belize.

Their goal is in line with recommendations from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which says mankind must act now to reduce and offset carbon emissions in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

The IPCC report finds that reaching net-zero emissions by 2040 would significantly limit warming temperatures. So why did the sisters choose 2037?

“It’s a little more aggressive because the sisters realize not everyone is able to do that. So part of what they are doing is trying to make up for what other people are not able to do,” said Carolyn Cromer, sustainability director.

The sisters live on a sprawling 370-acre property in Nazareth, Kentucky. Founded by Catherine Spalding — you know, of Spalding University — and Bishop John Baptist David in 1812, the diocese focused on providing religious education to Catholic families.

When the convent first opened, the sisters used to travel by train. Now they have three charging stations for electric vehicles. Dormitories that once served a college on the campus have become housing for low-income seniors and people with disabilities.

Their mission, too, has evolved, said Sister Susan Gatz.

Old-school Catholic doctrine said God gave people the earth, and that humans have “dominion” over it. These days the sisters focus on how everything on earth is interconnected. The sisters see themselves as stewards of God’s creation, and sustainability is part of that mission, Gatz said.

“As we continue to degrade the air, the water, the land, we ourselves are going to suffer because we are a part of this. We are not over it. So I think shifting that thinking is a huge task for humanity right now,” she said.

Across the property, the sisters have begun planting native trees to increase shade and offset the urban heat island effect. They’ve planted pollinator plant species and released Monarch butterflies, whose populations are declining. They’re cutting back on mowing to increase habitat for Kentucky critters, and all the lawn care that remains is done with electric equipment.

On the roof of one building, just across from the spires of the church, the sisters have installed about 140 solar panels — one of two installations on the property.

This year the sisters are calculating ways to offset their carbon footprint for air travel. And by the year 2047, they plan for all of their ministries to be carbon free, in the U.S., Belize, India, Nepal and Botswana, Africa.

Read the full article to find out more about the sustainability efforts by the ministry on the WFPL website.

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UofL awards renewable energy prize to LED lighting pioneer

University of California-Santa Barbara materials professor Shuji Nakamura, a pioneer in sustainable energy technology, has won the 2019 Leigh Ann Conn Prize for Renewable Energy from the University of Louisville. The prize recognizes outstanding renewable energy ideas and achievements with proven global impact.

Nakamura is recognized for scientific innovations and commercialization of efficient solid-state light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which have revolutionized electronics and lighting at more than 10 times the efficiency of incandescent lighting, more than twice the efficiency of fluorescents and a durability of 30 to 40 years. His innovations have enabled efficient use of energy, reduced the burden on the environment and helped create sustainable lighting worldwide.

Solid-state lighting and electronics are estimated to save $98 billion in cumulative energy consumption by 2030 in the United States, or the energy equivalent of 30 1-gigawatt power plants. Worldwide, the effects are five times greater.

In March 2020, Nakamura will give a free public talk in Louisville about his winning work and achievements, trials and tribulations. He will receive the Conn Prize medal and $50,000 award at a formal ceremony.

“Dr. Nakamura is a world-class scientist dedicated to the viability of LED technologies. His work and perseverance are inspiration to us all. The University of Louisville celebrates his research and its positive influence. In a world where energy use must be environmentally responsible, he is an outstanding winner of the Leigh Ann Conn Prize,” said UofL President Neeli Bendapudi, who will confer the award.

The prize, administered by UofL’s Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research at the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, is named for the late daughter of Hank and Rebecca Conn, who are center supporters and the prize benefactors.

“The impact of Dr. Nakamura’s work is massive and exactly what Leigh Ann thought mattered most — What good is innovation if it never changes the world?” Hank Conn said. “LED lighting touches people in all economic strata, saving energy and money with global reach. It is exciting to recognize this outstanding scientist, his innovations and their translation into clearly impactful technology.”

Read the original post on the UofL News website.

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Why most US utilities are failing to make the most of their smart meters

Advanced metering infrastructure — the two-way communicating smart meters that now serve more than half of U.S. electric customers — allows utilities to offer their customers time-of-use pricing, automated demand response, near-real-time energy data feedback and other tools to better link them to the true cost of electricity and encourage them to save it.

Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) networks also collect masses of interval data — a gold mine for a raft of utility improvements, from sorting and targeting customers to optimizing efficiency spending and informing distribution grid outage recovery and conservation voltage reduction schemes.

These are all proven methods to improve energy efficiency, and they can really add up when multiplied across millions of customers.

But today few U.S. utilities are capturing this full range of AMI capabilities, according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) — and some are hardly capturing any at all.

That’s a waste of ratepayer-funded assets for those utilities that have already deployed AMI, although relatively few states have taken their utilities to task for failing to deliver on efficiency and customer engagement targets, with a few exceptions such as Illinois.

But it’s also a warning to utilities that haven’t deployed AMI yet, according to Rachel Gold, senior manager of utilities at ACEEE and co-author of the report. Over the past two years, regulators in Massachusetts, Virginia, Kentucky and New Mexico have blocked multimillion-unit smart meter deployments over concerns of cost-effectiveness as well as lack of clear metrics on how they’ll benefit customers.

Regulators are also ordering utilities to set clear goals for efficiency and customer engagement gains, and coming up with methods to hold them to account, Gold said.

Massachusetts regulators denied the state’s utilities’ AMI plans in 2018, ordering them to improve their strategies for managing and making use of the data to be gleaned from the devices. And New Mexico regulators rejected Public Service Company of New Mexico’s 500,000-meter rollout on the grounds that it failed to “take advantage of possible energy-efficiency measures, identify sufficient operational benefits, or provide meaningful opt-out opportunities,” the report states.

While other AMI rollouts are being approved, they’re increasingly coming with regulator demands to optimize the efficiency opportunities they provide and reach beyond the lackluster efforts of first-generation AMI rollouts to empower customers with the data they generate.

Read the full article to find out more about what’s keeping utlities from making these gains on the Green Tech Media website.

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Smithfield Foods generates renewable natural gas from wastewater to power North Carolina communities

This was a joint news release between Duke Energy and Smithfield Foods.

SMITHFIELD, Va., January 8, 2020 — Smithfield Foods, Inc., in partnership with Duke Energy and OptimaBio, LLC, is now producing renewable natural gas (RNG) from the wastewater treatment system at its Tar Heel, N.C. pork processing facility, which will help power more than 2,000 local homes and businesses. The three companies are utilizing the world’s largest pork processing facility to provide renewable energy to consumers while reducing their own, and the state of North Carolina’s, carbon footprint.

The $14 million project is the latest from Smithfield Renewables, Smithfield’s platform to unify and accelerate its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 25% by 2025. Through partnership with Duke Energy, roughly 140,000 dekatherms of RNG per year will be transported to natural gas plants and used to generate electricity for consumers.

“This project brings to life all three of our company’s guiding principles – Responsibility, Operational Excellence, and Innovation,” said Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and chief executive officer for Smithfield Foods. “For the first time, we are creating renewable energy from the biogas generated in our wastewater treatment system and using it to power local communities. With the help of our partners, we are producing additional value for our company and our neighbors—a concept that is ingrained in our culture.”

To date, this is one of Smithfield’s largest renewable energy projects involving wastewater, and its first in North Carolina. Smithfield also has “wastewater-to-energy” projects at its Milan, Mo.; Grayson, Ky.; and Sioux Falls, S.D. facilities, which are used to power their modified steam boilers.

The company’s Tar Heel, N.C., project utilizes a gas upgrading and injection system operated by OptimaBio, LLC, a bioenergy project developer, which leverages the facility’s three million gallon-per-day wastewater treatment system to collect and clean biogas through an existing on-site digester and convert it into RNG.

“We are proud to partner with Smithfield on this project, which has far-reaching and positive impacts for the environment, the local community, and industries that are key to the state’s economy,” said Mark Maloney, CEO and Founder at OptimaBio, LLC. “We’re helping diversify and strengthen North Carolina’s renewable energy portfolio through this endeavor.”

Once converted, the RNG is injected into the Piedmont Natural Gas system, and then transported to Duke Energy to produce electricity. This project will help Duke Energy satisfy state swine waste-to-energy mandates under the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard law in North Carolina. Under this law, Duke Energy must generate 0.20% of its retail sales from swine waste by 2024.

“At Duke Energy, we are seeking innovative and cleaner energy solutions. Buying the output from Smithfield’s renewable natural gas project will allow us to expand our diverse generation mix in North Carolina,” said Stephen De May, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. “This project is creating safe and affordable energy that customers can rely on.”

In addition to creating renewable energy at its facilities, Smithfield is implementing projects on its farms that transform manure into RNG. These projects capture methane from manure, and clean and convert it into RNG, which is then injected into local natural gas distribution systems for homes and businesses. In the next decade, Smithfield is implementing “manure-to-energy” projects in at least six states including Arizona, California, Missouri, North Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.

Whether using biogas to power its facilities or nearby communities, these programs are part of Smithfield’s robust sustainability program. To learn more, visit

Read the original announcement on the Duke Energy News Center website.

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Solar-powered barge a key ‘interceptor’ for plastic waste

Scooping waste from a Malaysian river to stop it reaching the sea, a solar-powered barge named the “Interceptor” is the latest weapon in a global battle to rid the world’s waters of plastic.

Trash is being dumped into seas and rivers in enormous quantities, polluting vital habitats, endangering a kaleidoscope of marine life and sullying once pristine tourist spots.

Some eight million tons of plastics enter the world’s oceans every year, from straws tossed into gutters to mismanaged waste from rapidly growing economies, according to US-based group Ocean Conservancy.

But as governments and environmental protection groups struggle in the face of the growing tide, a Dutch non-profit group—The Ocean Cleanup—has come up with a novel solution in the form of the Interceptor.

The 24-metre-long (78 feet) vessel resembles a large houseboat and uses a curved barrier to catch waste floating downstream.

The trash, much of it plastic, is directed to the “mouth” of the barge—which operates autonomously and silently—from where it rolls up a conveyor belt and is dropped into dumpsters.

The barge can collect up to 50 tons of waste a day.

In October an Interceptor was stationed on the Klang river, a heavily polluted, major Malaysian waterway which flows through the capital Kuala Lumpur and its surrounding areas.

Ocean Cleanup is working with local government company Landasan Lumayan, which started cleaning the river in 2016, and says efforts are bearing fruit.

“The Klang river was like a floating landfill,” said Syaiful Azmen Nordin, managing director of the Malaysian firm.

“Boats could not pass through, and there was a lot of plastic. Now you can see the river is generally free from floating debris.”

Ocean Cleanup hopes their project will have a major impact in fighting the waste crisis globally, as rivers are one of the greatest sources of plastic flowing into the seas.

Some 80 percent of plastic waste that ends up in the sea floats down just 1,000 rivers worldwide, according to the group, which hopes to one day station trash-collecting barges in all these waterways.

The Klang river alone sends more than 15,000 tons annually into the sea, a map on their website shows, making it one of the 50 most-polluting rivers across the globe.

“We have (collected) tires, teddy bears, even dead animals… but generally it is plastic,” he said.

While the barges may help, they will only succeed if people do their part and act responsibly by refraining from thoughtlessly tossing plastic away, Syaiful added.

“Some people don’t see the impact of throwing rubbish. They throw the plastic on the streets and eventually the plastic will flow into the river,” he said.

“If we change our behavior, we can help our rivers (become) clean.”

Read the original article with pictures to learn more about the solar-powered barge on the website.
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GreenBiz – Sustainability news and resources

GreenBiz advances the opportunities at the intersection of business, technology and sustainability. Through its websites, events, peer-to-peer network and research, GreenBiz promotes the potential to drive transformation and accelerate progress — within companies, industries and in the very nature of business. Since 1991, GreenBiz has chronicled and been a catalyst for thought leadership in aligning environmental responsibility with profitable business practices.

Currently on the GreenBiz website by Elsa Wenzel:

New tool from Ellen MacArthur Foundation aims to help companies measure circularity

IKEA and Unilever are among the early testers of a new tool by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) that will help companies answer questions about their circularity efforts. Is circularity at the core of the company’s strategy? Is it developing circular products or services? Does it have the right staff to transition toward circularity?

These and other questions are at the heart of the tool announced Tuesday by EMF. It was built to help companies take their circularity efforts to the next level by assessing their entire operations, not just material flows alone. The service, Circulytics, takes a deep dive on a swath of metrics, then assigns a score with recommendations to companies based on their circular performance.

Seeking to accelerate the circular economy as a multi-trillion dollar opportunity that addresses some of the world’s biggest challenges, EMF saw the need to provide businesses with holistic insights in that direction.

Our ambition for Circulytics is to help any business, in any industry, anywhere in the world, recognize and unlock the potential of the circular economy.

“Many businesses are starting to embrace this opportunity, but for the transition to happen at scale and speed they need accurate data and clear analysis,” Andrew Morlet, CEO of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said in a statement. “Our ambition for Circulytics is to help any business, in any industry, anywhere in the world, recognize and unlock the potential of the circular economy.”

A variety of applications already exist to help companies with circular efforts, but they appear to be focused on waste and materials management, or on the framework of life-cycle assessements (LCA).

For instance, Prodigentia from Portugal calls its Circul8 cloud software, used in 20 countries on 4 continents, the industry leader in helping companies track waste along the supply chain. Circular IQ out of the Netherlands features 30 clients including ABN-AMRO and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, describing a dream of helping business to achieve “100% transparency, zero toxics and optimum use of resources” across supply chains. The GaBi tool from Sphera (formerly ThinkStep) does LCA modeling that involves a Material Circularity Indicator (MCI), built by EMF and Granta Design.

Circulytics divides its work into two big categories: aspects for transforming an entire company; and the inputs and outputs of materials and energy across operations. The former “enabling” category is the one least addressed by existing third-party circularity applications, although it is addressed by legions of sustainability consultants. It looks at strategy and planning; people and skills; systems, processes and infrastructure; innovation and external engagement. The score results from weighing all of those factors together.

Circulytics is not a fully automated smartphone app or piece of desktop software that works in real time. Instead, it combines online data collection with human insights on the backend. Companies that use the tool start by filling out an in-depth, web-based questionnaire that takes a deep dive into business operations and intentions. EMF may take up to a month to review data and results before sharing a scorecard and commentary-laden report with a company.

The foundation recognizes that currently it may be difficult or even impossible to quantify the ROI of a circular strategy, not to mention the results of attempts to design out waste and keep materials and products in use while generating revenue. It’s equally vexxing to understand what to improve and how to plan ahead.

“[Circulytics] will provide comprehensive tracking of company progress against key measures and deliver unprecedented clarity about circular economy performance, opening up new opportunities to generate brand value with key stakeholders,” EMF says.

Read the full article on the GreenBiz website.

Find the latest articles, videos and resources on the GreenBiz website.

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Upcoming Training, Events and Conferences

  • Bluegrass Sustainability Summit
    Bluegrass Greensource presents Central Kentucky’s inaugural Sustainability Summit at the University of Kentucky Gatton Student Center. The Inaugural Bluegrass Sustainability Summit will empower attendees to create change in our businesses, homes and communities. Local experts will equip Action Teams on waste reduction, sustainable agriculture and local food, water quality, energy efficiency and climate change.
    February 4, 2020 – Lexington, KY
    Find out more and register for this sustainability summit.
  • Plastics Recycling Conference and Trade Show
    The Plastics Recycling Conference and Trade Show is the focal point for the increasingly complex and international plastics recycling industry. The event, now in its 15th year, brings together plastics reclaimers, equipment manufacturers, brand owners, brokers, government officials and leading sustainability voices from around the globe to deepen connections and push the sector forward. Don’t miss out on the industry event of the year.
    February 17-19, 2020 – Nashville, TN
    Find out more about the Plastics Recycling Conference and how to register.
  • Global Waste Management Symposium 2020
    North America’s #1 technical conference for research and case studies on waste management! Whether your objectives are to learn more about the breakthrough research and world-class content, to network with solid waste professionals and decision-makers from around the world, or to find solutions to your biggest challenges, you know that GWMS is the event to accomplish them.
    February 23-26, 2020 – Indian Wells, CA
    Find out more about the Plastics Recycling Conference and how to register.
  • Sustainability in Packaging Conference
    The Sustainability in Packaging Conference is a platform to learn the latest on everything from ROI on sustainability, compostable packaging, packaging design, and transformation in the aluminum packaging industry, find out how to create a package that your customers will love and that is truly sustainable, and develop partnerships with other organizations throughout the supply chain that will benefit your product and your bottom line.
    March 11-13, 2020 – Chicago, IL
    Find out more about the Sustainability in Packaging Conference and how to register.



  • ENERGY STAR and Green Building Rating Systems
    During this session, attendees will learn how to use EPA tools and resources to help meet requirements for green building rating systems such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the Green Globes system, and others.
    February 12, 2020 at 1:00 p.m.

Portfolio Manager Series

  • 101 – February 4, 2020 at 1 p.m. EST – Attendees will learn how to: navigate the Portfolio Manager; add a property and enter details about it; enter energy and water consumption data; share properties; generate performance reports to assess progress; and respond to data requests.
  • 201 – February 11, 2020 at 1 p.m. EST – Learn more advanced functionalities such as: managing and tracking changes to your property uses over time; using spreadsheet templates to update property data; setting goals and targets to plan energy improvements for properties; generating and using custom reports; and using the Sustainable Buildings Checklist.
  • 301 – February 26, 2020 at 1 p.m. EST – Learn about some advanced features, including: using spreadsheet upload templates to update property data; setting goals and targets to plan energy improvements for properties; creating custom reports; and using the Sustainable Buildings Checklist.


View these plus more ENERGY STAR training opportunities and register today.


Ca.jpg-icon-SSPTo view these and other sustainability-related events, please visit the KPPC Events Calendar.

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