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Grants to USA, Canada, and International Research
Institutions to Address Sustainability in Waste Management

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF)

Deadline Date:

05/01/19 Close of Business (5:00 PM ET) Receipt


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Grants to USA, Canada, and International research institutions for studies addressing sustainability in solid waste management practices. Applications related to certain topics are required to request approval at least two weeks prior to the deadline. Research topic areas include recycling, waste minimization, conversion to energy and other products, waste diversion, and landfilling.


The sustainability movement has reached the business models of nearly every industry in the United States, and many companies, municipalities, and states have set aggressive sustainability goals that include how waste streams are being managed. The EREF Board of Directors has set an initiative to ensure 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.

It should be noted that EREF defines solid waste to include:
-Municipal solid waste (e.g. residential, commercial, institutional)
-Construction & demolition debris
-Certain industrial wastes (e.g. exploration & production waste, coal ash) 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).
-Agricultural wastes (that aren’t handled by the waste industry), nuclear waste, and land applied wastewater treatment sludge are generally not included in this definition.

Research Topic Areas:

Pre-proposal topics must relate to sustainable solid waste management practices and pertain to the following topic areas:

1. Waste minimization
2. Recycling
3. Waste conversion to energy, biofuels, chemicals or other useful products. This includes, but is not limited to, the following technologies: Waste-to-energy, anaerobic digestion, composting, other thermal or biological conversion technologies
4. Strategies to promote diversion to higher and better uses (e.g. organics diversion, market analysis, optimized material management, logistics, etc.)
5. Landfilling

Desirable aspects of the above topics, in addition to or as part of hypothesis-driven applied research, also include: economic or cost/benefit analyses, feasibility studies for untested technologies or management strategies, life cycle analysis or inventory, and analyses of policies that relate to the above.

Including Educational Objectives/Efforts in Research Proposals:
Pre-proposals do not need to contain specific or direct educational objectives. There is no special consideration given to proposals when such objectives are included. If the proposed research includes substantial efforts related to education, these may be deemed an educational project.

Educational Projects:
Grants are typically not provided to support the development of educational projects. However, collaborations or partnerships with entities seeking to develop educational materials for sustainable solid waste management, including conferences or events, which advance the Foundation’s educational mission may be considered. It is preferred that this be done with EREF being a primary stakeholder/partner in the event and that utilizes a revenue model that covers expenses for the project.

List of topics requiring approval:
-Development of life-cycle/process models to evaluate solid waste
-Evaluating specific applications of pyrolysis/gasification to manage niche/minor waste streams
-Development of specific gasification/pyrolysis techniques or technologies
-Using algae to create biofuels from waste

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 170682

Estimated Size of Grant:

Previously awarded grants have ranged from $15,000 to over $500,000 with the average grant amount in recent years being $160,000. It should be noted that proposed research in excess of $300,000 should contain sufficient details that justify the need for the higher than average amount requested.

Term of Contract:

Typical project durations are about 2 years. It should be noted that proposed research longer than 3 years should contain sufficient details that justify the need for the longer project duration.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Non-U.S. Institutions:
There are no restrictions in regards to geographic location. Any U.S. or non-U.S. institutions are eligible to apply.

Non-Academic Institutions:
Proposals will be accepted from non-academic institutions provided the principal investigators are qualified to conduct the research.

Multiple Institutions:
Submissions may include multiple institutions.

Who Can Serve as a Principal Investigator:
Principal investigators (PI) must be qualified to do the work proposed and should be experts in the subject matter referenced in the pre-proposal/proposal. Typically this would include full-time faculty at academic institutions, post-doctoral employees, and principals or senior personnel at non-academic institutions. Graduate students are not eligible to be principal investigators. However, graduate students are encouraged to consider applying to EREF’s scholarship program (see the EREF website for details).

Multiple Pre-Proposal Submissions:
Pre-Proposal submissions are limited to two (2) submissions per principal investigator during a particular submission period. Beyond this, the PI cannot be listed as a PI or co-PI on other submissions that round, but may be listed as a supporting investigator on other submissions.

Repeat Submittals:
Pre-proposals that did not receive an invitation to submit a full proposal may re-submit a revised version of the original pre-proposal once, and thereafter, approval must be obtained by EREF beforehand. In the event a research topic is very closely related to a prior submittal by the same entity, EREF staff will make any determinations regarding whether or not a submitted proposal constitutes a re-submittal.

Overhead Costs:
EREF will not pay indirect or overhead costs in excess of 25% of direct costs. For non-academic institutions, the definition of overhead can vary. However, typically this refers to payment that denotes a time and materials rate multiplier of 1.25. Please contact EREF if your firm does not fit this model to discuss defining an appropriate overhead definition.

Additional Limitations:

It is EREF’s policy that all results from funded projects are made publicly available and are without bias. Thus, EREF will typically avoid funding proposals prepared with the following aims:

-To directly commercialize and/or patent a particular technology or process
-To provide venture capital or operating funds for start-up companies
-To provide funds that primarily aid in the formation or initialization of community programs (e.g. recycling programs, re-use projects, etc)
-To directly support lobbying activities
-To fund conferences or events, except as noted under “Educational Projects”
-To conduct research or evaluations with an extremely narrow scope. Examples include projects that impact a small portion of the solid waste stream, benefit a single entity or community, or that cover a very small geographical area (e.g. a single county or town).

Pre-Application Information:

EREF has two deadlines per year for pre-proposals:
-December 1
-May 1

Pre-proposals will be accepted starting from 15 days prior to the deadline date and up to the close of business (5:00 PM eastern time) on the deadline date. Proposals must be received during this window to be considered. If any of the above dates fall on a weekend, then the deadline will be the Monday following the due date.

Upon submission, pre-proposals will be examined by a selection committee and successful pre-proposals will be invited to submit a full proposal for consideration.

Cost sharing is encouraged, but is not required.

Because the amount of funding for research is limited, EREF encourages submitting parties to form partnerships with other funding sources (real-dollars or in-kind services). Parties should identify the sources and amounts of external funding in their submissions. It is preferred that real dollars from external sources be managed through EREF rather than going to the research institution directly. Note that in such instances this does not reduce the amount of these funds that go to the research institution.

There are a number of topics that may require approval before a pre-proposal will be considered. Investigators who would like to propose a research topic where the primary objectives relate to the areas listed below should contact EREF to discuss the topic prior to submitting a pre-proposal.

To do this, please email a description of the proposed research that is 1-page or less that requests review of the concept. This request should be made 2 weeks or more in advance of any pre-proposal deadline. If necessary, or upon request, the concept can be discussed via phone as well.

List of Topics Requiring Approval:
-Development of life-cycle/process models to evaluate solid waste
-Evaluating specific applications of pyrolysis/gasification to manage niche/minor waste streams
-Development of specific gasification/pyrolysis techniques or technologies
-Using algae to create biofuels from waste

Educational Projects:
To be considered for an Educational Project, proposed concepts should be discussed with EREF.

More information about Research Grants and Projects may be found here:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Submit pre-proposals online here:

If requiring approval prior to submitting a pre-proposal, email a project description to:

Environmental Research and Education Foundation
3301 Benson Drive, Suite 101
Raleigh, North Carolina 27609

P: (919) 861-6876
F: (919) 861-6878

URL for Full Text (RFP):

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International country outside of the USA, Israel and Canada.