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  1. 2019 Recycling Summary

    Associated Project(s): 

    Global recycling of material has been widespread throughout the world for many years as an option for source reduction, excess waste generation and materials diversion from landfills. According to, 2019 has been a challenge for the recycling materials market as it adjusted to tightened Chinese import restrictions and U.S-China trade war issues as well as a softened domestic market that affected commodities pricing.

    Going into the New Year, recyclers don’t predict any significant market changes for the first half of 2020.

    Saying Goodbye to a Difficult Year-2019 has challenged the resolve of many recyclers.

  2. Guide to small-scale composting program

    Hi Meredith,

    Here's my update for this week: 

    This week I started to write a general guide on composting best practices and the implementation process for on-campus offices/departments to start a small-scale composting program similar to our own.

    Next week, we will begin distributing the outreach letter informing the NSRC units of this initiative. The units in this building are being asked to contact me so we can start training the offices and so we know how many receptacles to purchase.


    Hope you have a great rest of the week! 



  3. Weekly Update - Fix-a-Flat

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, Slow and steady for the week on the whole. Anecdotally busy again for this time of year. Still gearing up and/or down for moving shop, depending on how you think of it.
    We’ve got our first fix-a-flat class of the semester coming up this Friday from 11am – 12p.  Today’s warm weather projects a busy shop this afternoon but I’ve given up trying to predict how busy it’ll be. I’ll also be hiring two new student staffers this week with a third interview to schedule.
    The numbers:
    Visitors: 61
    Sales: $651
    Bikes (refurb): 3 for $430
    Memberships: 3 for $90
    Tires/tubes: 8 for $31


    Jacob Benjamin
    Manager, Campus Bike Center

  4. Water Environment Federation (WEF)

    A brief introduction to Water Environment Federation - American Water Works Association (WEF-AWWA) Student Chapter UIUC


    We have been involved in organizing events and meetings that orient students towards the water industry. 


    Listed below are some of our past activities:

    1. Organizing regular general meetings with water companies based in Champaign and the Greater Chicago Area.
    2. Organized an annual conference 'Diving Into The Water Industry' featuring presenters from different fields within the water industry.
    3. Organizing office visits for students to water companies and also field visits to local water treatment plants.
    4. Involvement with WEF and its divisional organization Central States Water Environment Association (CSWEA). Every year, we take part in the WEF student design competition. Last year, our project 'Flood Mitigation Strategies for Houston, TX' won the category for Environmental Design and was selected for presentation in WEFTEC 2019, the annual conference of WEF.
  5. Meeting at NCSA

    Associated Project(s): 

    Sarthak Prasad and Stacey DeLorenzo met with Katie Henning at NCSA to discuss the It's Your MTD Too event. This event would be open to faculty and staff at NCSA and nearby departments/units. Katie was very interested in the event, and asked us for some dates. We decided to host this event from 12:30 to 1:30 pm. Sarthak would finalize a date and time for the event with Evan Alvarez.

  6. Eco Talk: The perils of the Bradford pear tree

    Associated Project(s): 


    Eco Talk: The perils of the Bradford pear tree

    Bradford pear trees

    Bradford pear trees. Deposit Photos

    Judy Wright Special to The Citizen Jan 23, 2020 Updated 16 min ago

    As I write this column today, I am thinking about spring and looking forward to the flowering trees when spring does arrive. I am hopeful, as the up-and-down temperatures of this winter have caused some trees that bloom early to have their flower buds start to swell. I am sure we can remember some springs when the flowering trees either did not flower or their flowers were fewer in number than normal because a hard cold snap that damaged the swollen flower buds.

    One of the trees I used to look forward to seeing is now considered by some, and justifiably so, to be an invasive species. Unfortunately, the Bradford pear, also referred to as a callery pear, was planted just about everywhere in the 1990s because of its dense cone shape and white flowers. I recall seeing them everywhere, and how pretty the trees were when flowering. These trees were also chosen, at one time, as the urban tree of the year!

    Since then, we have learned that these trees, in spite of their visual appeal, did not come without problems. Imported from China in the 1960s by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an ornamental tree, they produce an unpleasant scent when flowering. Also, the branches and even the trunks are very weak and can break under snow, ice and even a strong wind. To counteract this weakness, other varieties of the Bradford pear were quickly introduced.

    At the time of their introduction as an ornamental tree, it was assumed the Bradford pear trees were sterile and would not produce any fruit. Part of that was correct, they do not produce fruit. however, as the newer, stronger varieties were introduced, it was later learned that they would cross-pollinate with the older varieties, and now they have become an environmental threat in eastern forests. Apparently, the newer varieties of Bradford pears would produce fruit that birds would eat, carry into the forest and deposit the seeds, which would grow.

    As the seeds grow into seedlings, the new plants carry the older genetics of the older callery pears, which produce thorns measuring up to 4 inches. It is reported that these thorns are very sturdy and can even destroy tractor tires! Once established, the thickets take over native forest trees like dogwoods, maples, oaks and redbud. Many of these native tree species produce fruit that is nutritious and palatable to birds and other animals, while the callery pear fruit has little nutritional value.

    So now you may realize you have a problem growing in your landscape and want to get rid of it. Suggested steps are to first cut the tree down and grind the root out. They will produce shoots or suckers from any remaining root pieces, so you will need to be vigilant and mow them off. They will continue to send shoots up for at least two years before all the root reserves are exhausted. Be vigilant!

    Once the shoots have stopped, consider replanting something more environmentally beneficial, such as maple or other shade trees. Redbuds or serviceberry will provide spring flowers, and Japanese maples are visually appealing. Many landscapers realize the damage the Bradford pears are causing and will not plant them. Recognizing the serious environmental problems the Bradford pears were causing, the state of Ohio passed legislation in 2018 stopping the sale or distribution of any callery pears by 2023.

    By the way, there are reported to be about 3,000 species of pear worldwide. Pears are relatives of apples and are a member of the rose family. They are native to Asia and Europe, and are reported to have arrived in America with the colonists when New England was settled in the 1600s.

    Unfortunately, this is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that I will write about an invasive species that we should be aware of. Invasive species are a significant problem all around the world. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlif/e Service, invasive species are costing the U.S. billions of dollars in damages each year.

    While this is staggering, if we each take time to learn about invasive species and then take steps to control those we can manage, such as removing Bradford pear trees even though they are pretty to look at when flowering, we may be able to stem the loss of valuable native species.

    Judy Wright is the senior agriculture specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Seneca County. For more information, visit or call (315) 539-9251 ext. 109.

  7. Weekly Update - New semester, B-a-B

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, First week of the semester is in the books! We were busy at times, and characteristically slow for the majority of the week. Sold a few bikes.

    This week I’ve got another interview and hopefully it’ll work out so we can get our staff numbers back up. I’ll probably make a run to the warehouse to pick up a few more bikes since we’re out of B-a-B candidates/shop builds and a run to Urbana to drop off excess stock in advance of moving.

    The numbers:

    Visitors: 56

    Sales: $478.50

    Bikes (refurb): 2 for $305

    Memberships: 1 for $30

    Tire/tubes: 3 for $11



    Jacob Benjamin
    Manager, Campus Bike Center

  8. Map the System 2020 Social Innovation Challenge

    Map the System 2020 Social Innovation Challenge

    Encourage students to register for Map the System 2020, a global competition that will challenge them to think differently about social and environmental change. Teams develop systems-level thinking, research, presentation, and changemaking skills and pitch at the campus semi-final for a chance to win a funded trip to compete for cash prizes at the University of Oxford Global Final in the UK.

    February 5, 5 pm • Registration Deadline

    Valeri Werpetinski • Origin Ventures Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership