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 • Deconstruction
 • Zero Waste Planning
 • Recycling Means Business
 • Sustainable Plastics
 • Recycling and Economic Development (Mid-Atlantic)
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Partnership Update: Elemental Impact: A POWERful Voice in Organics Solutions

Elemental Impact (EI), a national non-profit based in Atlanta, is a dynamo of projects, ideas and networking for the corporate community and government agencies in the field of organics solutions. EI takes ACTION through the Zero Waste Zones, an EI program in partnership with the National Restaurant Association, the Sustainable Food Court Initiative and POWER - Perishable Organics Waste to Energy Recycling. Among recent accomplishments, EI initiated a pilot food discard recovery pilot at the city-owned Atlanta Airport in cooperation with the Atlanta Office of Sustainability, Sustainability Division of the Atlanta Airport and ILSR. To learn about EI's important work follow the ZWZ Blog and the IMPACT Blog.

Food Scraps Composting Training at Rodale Institute

Held Thursday, October 6, 2011 - Kutztown, PA

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) and Rodale Institute provided a one-day training program for existing and potential compost practitioners and policy makers. The program included both classroom sessions and field tours presenting issues related to food scraps generation, hauling, and composting practices to inform participants about all aspects of starting and running a successful food composting operation. In addition, the program highlighted other food composting initiatives in the region. Funding support was provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Click here for more information.

Why Consider Compostable Food Service Products?

ILSR's new fact sheet on "FAQs: Why Choose Compostable Products for Food Service" explains what constitutes compostable products, where they are available, and the importance of working with local composters to ensure they are composted. Click here for more information.

Pitfalls of Plasma Arc Technology in New Orleans

Greenaction for Health and the Environment, based in San Francisco, has completed a detailed analysis of the environmental impacts and operating history of plasma arc technology based on the claims made by a company seeking to build such a plant in New Orleans, LA.

Greenaction, an award winning environmental technical assistance organization, and ILSR have been working with the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, the New Orleans Sierra Club and community organizations to cancel planning for the facility for environmental and financial reasons, and implement recycling and economic development enterprises and programs.

Download Toxic Scandal, Toxic Threat and Environmental Racism - Sun Energy LLC's Louisiana Gasification Facility Plasma Arc Incinerator in Disguise - June 2011

New Resource

Dan Knapp's speech at the University of Illinois' 2011 John Holtz Memorial Lecture - April 20, 2011
Dan Knapp is founder of Urban Ore (Berkeley, CA) and a leader in the practical development of recycling, composting and reuse enterprises. Over the past three decades he and his partner, Mary Lou Van Deventer, have also provided critically needed intellectual tools for the recycling movement. Urban Ore and ILSR have been working partners since the late 1970s and Dan's speech is an important statement on the state of recycling in the US.

Trash Is Not Renewable - March 30, 2011

In March, ILSR testified against proposed legislation in Maryland to qualify waste incinerators as a Tier 1 renewable source of energy.

  • Nonprofits Slam Bills That Give Even Larger Subsidies to Waste Incineration Under Maryland's Renewable Portfolio Standard - joint coalition press release, March 30, 2011
  • Don't Trash Renewable Energy in Maryland - one-page fact sheet
  • "Top Ten Reasons to Oppose MD House Bill 1121 and Senate Bill 690" - Factsheet
  • ILSR's Written Testimony on the Legislation
  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts press release announcing the decision to maintain its moratorium on building new waste incinerators. - December 2009

Polystyrene Is Still a Health Hazard - March 23, 2011

In response to many requests for our 1990s Facts To Act On series covering the public health impacts of polystyrene, we have now made three relevant issues available online.

  • "Are Polystyrene Food and Beverage Containers a Health Hazard?", August 15, 1990 (#5)
  • Polystyrene Industry Responds to FACTS TO ACT ON No. 5, June 14, 1991 (#22)
  • George Baggett's Response to the Polystyrene Industry's Review of "Styrene Migration into Human Adipose Tissue", June 14, 1991 (#23)

Comments on Public Policy

NY State, Extended Producer Responsibility and Incineration.

Read more…

2010 ILSR Program Report

36 Years Building Vibrant, Equitable, and Sustainable Communities

A key responsibility of cities and counties is the collection and disposal of solid wastes. ILSR works with activists, policymakers and businesses to reduce waste generation and maximize the reuse, recovery, remanufacturing or composting of these materials and their associated products.

Read the year end report… the Waste to Wealth section begins on page 10

Repair and Reuse Enterprises in Bridgeport, Connecticut

ILSR worked with the Deputy Mayor and U.S. EPA Region 1 to introduce successful social entrepreneurs in the recycling sector to city agencies, community organizations and private businesspeople through a workshop in June titled "Recycling and Economic Development."

Read more about recycling and economic development in Bridgeport, CT…

Success and Change in ILSR's Deconstruction Program

There has been continued expansion of building deconstruction in federal programs, the private sector and the community development sector. ILSR?s role has changed from one of a general contractor to one of a facilitator, using the talents of trainers and entrepreneurs to advance deconstruction in the US. Read more…

Building Materials Reuse Association Holds Meeting of Federal Grant Recipients to Foster Collaboration On Deconstruction

The BMRA hosted a webinar meeting on February 24 with recently announced recipients of federal Department of Labor grants to discuss deconstruction training curriculum and certification. All of the invited recipient organizations included deconstruction training as a component of the grant scope of work. The goal of this meeting was to initiate collaboration among the recipients and to explore how the BMRA might play a role in fostering development of a consistent curriculum or certification that could be used by all of the deconstruction training programs funded with these grants. Stay in touch with BMRA for further details!

BMRA at:

BioSpecs by SBC and Business-NGO Working Group

The Sustainable Biomaterials Collaborative and the Business-NGO Working Group released the BioSpecs for Food Service Ware at the Biopolymers Symposium in Chicago, September 30, 2009. The BioSpecs are purchasing specifications for environmentally preferable compostable biobased food service products. They outline sustainability criteria and recognition levels for food service ware made from compostable biobased materials.


New Economic Environmental Sustainability Network


Recycling and composting are just the beginning. J. Michael Huls, an activist and pioneer in the US recycling movement since 1970, and an adviser to cities and industry, has expanded his horizons to Smart Media. Huls has now introduced "Green Street Scene Worldwide Webcast Network." This is an excellent source for products, services, actions, policies, plans, tools -- everything to establish sustainability in our society. On the Internet at:

Waste Diversion Options Report,
Dubuque, IA

ILSR's series of workshops, supported by the Community Foundation of Dubuque and the Four Mounds Foundation, in 2008 led to the scope of work for this technical report. The report was completed by Huls Environmental Management, LLC. under the direction of the Dubuque Office of Sustainability.

Read the executive summary (PDF)

TRP Begins Green Jobs Training

The ReUse Institute (TRI), the training and consulting arm of TRP, has been contacted in recent months by several municipalities, colleges, and employment-development organizations looking to provide job-training programs for their constituents. They recognize that deconstruction is an ideal portal through which qualified individuals can find well-paying, rewarding jobs in the green building industry.

Two trainings are now scheduled: a 14-day program in Muncie, Indiana, kicks off on September 21, and a similar program begins in Kansas City, Missouri, on October 12.

TRP is a founding member of ILSR's national deconstruction technical assistance network, which now extends to every corner of the US and employs over 300 workers.


The Evolution of Deconstruction

Deconstructing, as opposed to demolishing, abandoned buildings will revitalize our cities by reducing waste, creating green jobs, providing high-quality recycled materials for new construction, and more.

Read the full BioCycle article

Green jobs that pay well too! How to use federal stimulus dollars in your town.

Can you take down a building in a way that is

  • Cost Friendly
  • Carbon Friendly, and
  • Forest Friendly?

The answer is yes. The method is called deconstruction, and it is spreading rapidly throughout the US.

Deconstruction recovers valuable building materials that are immediately ready for re-use or re-sale. Deconstruction trains workers for deconstruction and construction jobs paying $14 and higher.

There are several sources of federal economic stimulus dollars to start and/or expand deconstruction.

Read more

Stop Trashing the Climate

spacer Released to coincide with the UN's World Environment Day on June 5th, this report documents the link between climate change and unsustainable patterns of consumption and wasting. The study dispels myths about the climate benefits of landfill gas recovery and waste incineration, outlines policies needed to effect change, and offers a roadmap to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions within a short period. Co-authored by ILSR, the Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance (GAIA) and Eco-Cycle, Stop Trashing the Climate concludes that reducing waste disposed in landfills and incinerators can have climate benefits equivalent to removing 21% of U.S. coal-fired power plants.

Press Release - Exec. Summ. - Full Report

More at

Read our article on Stop Trashing the Climate from BioCycle magazine (PDF)

New SustainablePlastics.Org web page launched

The impact of 50 years of unbridled plastics production, use, and disposal is now becoming well known and documented. Plastics made from non-renewable petroleum and natural gas resources threaten the environment, human health, species maintenance, and the very life of the ocean.

The web site discusses the problems with fossil-fuel based plastics and the opportunities and challenges of using biobased plastics -- plastics made from plants such as corn, potatoes, sugarcane, and trees -- to mitigate these problems. A product with biobased content does not guarantee its sustainability.

Sustainable Plastics?, a project of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, explores how we can make plastics more sustainable throughout their lifecycle from production to recycling or composting at the end of intended use.


New Sustainable Biomaterials Collaborative Formed

The Sustainable Biomaterials Collaborative (SBC) is a network of organizations working together to spur the introduction and use of biomaterials that are sustainable from cradle to cradle. The Collaborative seeks to advance the development and diffusion of sustainable biomaterials by creating sustainability guidelines, engaging markets, and promoting policy initiatives.

The SBC principles, key documents, resources and a list of the current 14 organizations that comprise the Collaborative, are available at

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On-Going Technical Assistance Programs

ILSR coordinates two technical assistance programs available to community development groups, environmental organizations, local government agencies and small businesses involved in (1) developing alternatives to garbage incinerators planned for their communities, or (2) developing building deconstruction enterprises and community economic development.

For details contact Neil Seldman:; (202) 898-1610 ext 210.

>> News & Views Archive

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ILSR's Waste to Wealth program has helped communities across the country create policies and practices that address citizens' environmental concerns and economic needs. We've helped citizens fight the incinerators and landfills that polluted their air and water, and drove property prices down. We have helped communities research and demonstrate recycling and composting programs that reduce the need for disposal facilities and increase local economic growth.

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ILSR Responds to The New York Times

An editor of The New York Times asked Neil Seldman to respond to the Times article by Elizabeth Rosenthal, (Europe Finds Clean Energy in Trash, but U.S. Lags)

April 2010

Read more

Garbage In Garbage Out: Solving Problems with Long Distance Trash Transport by Vivian E. Thompson

Book Review

Read the book review (PDF - from BioCycle, Jan 2010)

Annie Leonard and Karl Marx... Or Is It Frederick Engels?

"The Story of Stuff" in history

November 2009

Read more

Thoughts on the National Recycling Coalition

October 2009

Read more

Which Incineration Technologies Make Sense: None of the Above

September 2009

Read more

Last Gasp for Garbage Incineration

May 2009

Read more at Waste & Recycling News

Recycling First: Directing Federal Stimulus Money to Real Green Projects

March 4, 2009 online edition

Read the full commentary at

Investing in Zero Waste ... And Green Jobs

BioCycle Magazine
January 2009

Read more

Wasted Energy: Debunking the Waste-to-Energy Scheme

Like any other vampire, "waste to energy" technology, e.g., burning garbage for electricity, needs a good, swift stake to the heart.

Read the full commentary at

Recycling is not Garbage
A Response to Alexander Cockburn

Feb 12, 2008 online edition

Why do some leftist thinkers think recycling is irrelevant? Neil Seldman addresses the issue raised by a Nation Magazine columnist. Read the article at E

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