The Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology is in the
College of Natural Resources at UW-Stevens Point, which is widely regarded as the nation's
leading undergraduate natural resource program.


WIST  News
February 2015
In This Issue
Research, Education, and Laboratory Services

pilot paper machine 






WIST has provided learning and training opportunities for more than 400 professionals in the paper and packaging industries.


WIST research and services support Wisconsin's specialty paper and converting industries, which collectively generate more than $5 billion in annual gross product.



WIST provides laboratory services, research and education to help businesses compete, and to grow the economy of Wisconsin and the region. Technologies and ideas developed by WIST will help preserve a healthy environment for future generations.


WIST operations are supported in part by funding from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Follow-up Links



Davidson attends compostability conference  
Amber Davidson, WIST compostability lab manager, checks samples being tested in the lab.
Amber Davidson, WIST's compostability lab manager, gauged industry trends and met with commercial composters from around the United States at a recent conference in Austin, Texas.
Davidson attended the U.S. Composting Council annual conference January 20-23.
The conference was geared more at composting businesses than producers of compostable products or laboratories such as the WIST certification lab, Davidson said. She gained insight into issues and concerns in the industry.
"Plastic was a big topic," Davidson said. Many commercial composters have had problems with the lack of compostability of bioplastics, and there was discussion between presenters and attendees about certification test methods needed for bioplastics.
WIST does test both bioplastics and coated paper products for compostability to ASTM standards for industrial composting. Davidson is currently completing work to achieve certification for the WIST lab by the Biodegradable Products Institute. BPI certification would mean that companies whose materials pass the certification protocol would be able to use the BPI label on the product, subject to a licensing fee to BPI.
Davidson learned that composters across the country do not have a standardized method of operation. "I did not realize how many different systems there were out there," she said. "Just in one workshop we went through eight different ones."
To view a short video about WIST's compostability lab, click here. To read more about our service, click here.
WIST offers new mini-course
in nanotechnology
Have you been fascinated by reports of the transformative potential of nanotechnology but a little unsure what it all means?
A new mini-course offered by WIST provides "nanotechnology literacy" and introduces participants to some of the tools and techniques of the science.
Taught by Dr. Robin Tanke, UW-Stevens Point professor of chemistry, this one-day course discusses the use of nanomaterials in consumer products, medical diagnostics and sensors, as well as environmental considerations of nanoparticles. Tanke has research experience in silver and gemanium nanoparticles since 2000 and course instruction experience in nanotechnology since 2003.
Nanoparticles are on the scale of about 1 to 100 billionths of a meter. They behave differently than bulk materials because their properties are size- and shape-dependent. To some degree, we have been controlling nanoparticle formation for centuries. The colors in centuries-old stained glass, for example, were obtained with different sized particles of gold and silver. However, only in the last few decades have we had the analytical tools to image nanoparticles and the synthetic methodology to, occasionally, control the shape and size of particles. 
The course fee is $450 and include breakfast, lunch, course supplies and materials. The course is offered Thursday, June 11, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at UW-Stevens Point. To register, or for further information, email Angie Hauer at or phone Angie at 715-346-2331.
Seats still available in two papermaking courses offered free in spring

Paper Machine
Papermaking courses feature hands-on sessions on the UW-Stevens Point pilot paper machine and in paper testing and analysis labs.
In fall 2014 WIST debuted new courses in papermaking additives and formation. The courses will be offered tuition-free one more time, in spring 2015. The normal course fee is $800.
More information about the courses is on the WIST website here.
Space is limited to 16 participants in each class so don't delay in registering. Click on the links below to register online. (The spring offering of Hands-on Papermaking is full but you may be placed on a waiting list by emailing
For Measuring and Controlling Formation, April 16-17, click here.
For Introduction to Papermaking Additives, April 30-May 1, click here.
Compostability workshop is in one week -- still time to register!
 "Opportunities and Challenges in Organics Diversion" will be held in conjunction with the Wisconsin Integrated Resource Management Conference. The three-hour workshop is being hosted by the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology. It is open to conference and non-conference attendees. 
Read more about the workshop here. And click here to register.