SRU receives EPA grant to help local manufacturers prevent pollution


Food being packaged

Pollution from food and beverage manufacturers, such as plastic packaging, is an area of emphasis from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Slippery Rock University received an EPA grant to help Pittsburgh-area manufacturers save on their energy and water costs to improve the environment.

Nov. 16, 2020

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Slippery Rock University was one of 11 organizations in the nation, including six colleges and universities, to receive a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to support pollution prevention activities. SRU received $72,146 from a total EPA grant budget of $1.16 million to fund "innovative, cost-effective, replicable source reduction approaches that enable the recipients and their partners to save energy and water, reduce pollution and improve public health."

SRU will use the funds for a project to minimize pollution from food and beverage manufacturers within the greater Pittsburgh area by providing them with free industrial assessments. The goal of the assessments, facilitated by a team of SRU faculty, staff, student interns and outside consultants, is to determine recommendations for reducing operating costs, energy and water usage, pollutants used in the manufacturing process and greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

Paul Scanlon


"This is a great opportunity to bring ideas together and share knowledge that will result in solutions for improving the environment and saving businesses money," said Paul Scanlon, SRU director of sustainability who helped write the grant proposal on behalf of the University. "We're thankful for the EPA for the funding that will benefit the University, the local economy and the environment. It's a win-win-win."

Food and beverage manufacturers are currently being identified for the project and SRU could be working with as many as four manufacturers next year with plans to grow the project further beyond the length of the two-year EPA grant.

As part of the EPA grant, four SRU students will be hired as interns to work on the project, making $15 per hour for 10-20 hours per week during the academic year and 40 hours per week in the summer.

"By helping the EPA meet its goals in its national emphasis area of food and beverage manufacturing, SRU is also helping students make their education more affordable and provide them with valuable experience for pursuing a new green career in the food manufacturing industry," Scanlon said.

In addition to the EPA grant, $40,000 is being provided by a combination of in-kind services and donated cash from a grant provided to SRU by Scott Electric, a regional wholesale electrical distributor and supply store based in Greensburg. The in-kind services are being donated by SRU engineering faculty; Kroff Inc., a program partner that provides environmental compliance and process optimization services to food and beverage manufacturers; and the Pittsburgh Business Exchange.

The EPA grant, announced on the 30th anniversary of the Pollution Prevention Act, is part of the EPA's Source Reduction Assistance grants program, which prioritizes funding for projects that support research, education and/or training of innovative source reduction techniques. The grantees will document and share and source reduction best practices that are identified and developed through these grants so that others can replicate these practices and outcomes.

More information about the grant is available on the EPA website.

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