The Montana Pollution Prevention Program, a Montana State University Extension program that provides pollution prevention technical assistance to small businesses, recently won a $989,000, two-year grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Funds will continue its EcoStar awards program and partner with the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center to expand pollution prevention technical assistance to the food and beverage manufacturing industries.
The EcoStar awards program, now in its 18th year, recognizes Montana businesses who conserve resources of water, energy and clean air.
The food and beverage manufacturing industry is the fastest-growing manufacturing industry in Montana, according to Jenny Grossenbacher, who has led the pollution prevention program since 2006. She said the grant caters, in part, to the booming microbrew industry in the state.
With funds from the grant, the Montana Pollution Prevention Program and MMEC will offer onsite technical assistance and training. A portion of the facilities working with the program and MMEC will receive energy audits from the National Center for Appropriate Technology to identify energy conservation opportunities.
“We are honored, once again, to be awarded the EPA pollution prevention grant to continue this integral work with small businesses,” Grossenbacher said. “This program can benefit an assortment of stakeholders, including breweries, wineries, distilleries, malters, coffee roasters and food manufacturers, including sugar beet, cereal grain, meat, dairy and pulse crop processors. We encourage any business in the food and beverage industry to reach out to us for assistance.”
Grossenbacher noted that onsite technical assistance will be capped at 20 businesses per year, but lessons learned will be available via a webinar series to help other businesses unable to participate in the hands-on training.
MMEC Director Paddy Fleming said there are multiple benefits to conserving resources.
“Reductions in water, energy and raw material use, as well as discharge and emission reductions in the food and beverage industry, not only make financial sense, they appeal to today’s consumers,” he said.