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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Wednesday, November 26, 2014
IL: Electronics recycling bill introduced in Springfield
A proposed change in state law aimed to save underfunded electronics recycling programs made its debut Wednesday in Springfield.House Bill 4204, sponsored by state Rep. Emily McAsey, D-Lockport, was aired on the first day of the lawmakers' November veto session during an Illinois House Environmental Committee subject matter hearing. "If some changes are not made, I'm concerned [some programs] will cease to be able to operate," McAsey told members Wednesday during a hearing. "There's the possibility of widespread illegal dumping [of electronics]." Illinois does not allow most electronic appliances, including TVs and computers, in landfills. Will County and other local governments have created recycling programs as an option. Marta Keane, recycling specialist for Will County, was among those who testified in favor. She characterized the situation as a crisis, while representatives from the manufacturing industry argued against advancing the legislation without careful vetting. To blame is the rising cost of recycling and the low annual recycling goals set by state law for electronics manufacturers, Keane said. Once manufacturers meet certain weight goals, they no longer have to pay recycling contractors to process items. In turn, some recyclers -- such as Vintage Tech in Will County -- end up footing the bill. But how long that can last is uncertain. Others have shut down or begun charging local governments for the services. Source: The Herald-News, 11/19/14

New Gorilla Glass 4 Reduces Shattered Screens
Corning officially revealed Thursday the next iteration of its formulation for Gorilla Glass -- a super damage-resistant cover glass for handheld electronic devices and other applications that also allows for ultra-thin (and thus lightweight) characteristics. The latest formulation -- called Gorilla Glass 4 -- is said to produce up to two times the damage resistance of the previous Gorilla Glass 3 version introduced a year ago and even greater strength than hardened, aluminosilicate glasses on the market. In addition, Corning has developed other processes manufacturers can select to add features -- like anti-microbial characteristics and bonding with other materials, like stainless steel, to keep surfaces for things like major appliances resistant to scratching and fingerprints. Source: TWICE, 11/20/14

Tuesday, November 25, 2014
BIR Roundtable Sessions: Electronics recyclers seek clarity
In providing an update on the different rules imposed for transboundary movements of electronic scrap, the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) Environmental & Technical Director Ross Bartley confirmed that his organization continues to receive numerous inquiries on this subject because of a lack of clarity. "It is unclear when a waste is not listed how it is controlled. For example, in a number of countries notification is required," he told delegates attending the BIR E-Scrap Committee meeting in Paris on Oct. 27. As for transboundary movement of a pre-owned item for reuse, he said, "There needs to be sufficient certainty that it will actually be reused, because if it is not its disposal may pose a threat to human health and the environment." Source: Recycling Today, 11/23/14

CEA releases study on electronics recycling
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), a technology trade association headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, has released a study showing that electronics recycling continues to receive significant support from consumers. The report, titled "Recycling and Reuse Study, 2014 Edition," shows that 82 percent of U.S. adults say that recycling obsolete electronics is important. The survey also finds that 30 percent of consumers surveyed have recycled electronic products over the past year. Source: Recycling Today, 11/24/14

Utah recycler abandons three facilities in the state
The Basel Action Network (BAN), Seattle, reports that Stone Castle Recycling, previously one of Utah's largest recyclers of electronic scrap, has abandoned its three facilities in the state. The company has ceased all operations and has left behind several warehouses and yards filled with an estimated 7,600 tons of toxic electronic scrap and charred residues, the organization says. Source: Recycling Today, 11/19/14

Electronics Recycling Asia: Getting more formal
The valuable materials found in some obsolete electronic items have helped create a thriving underground economy of dismantlers and recyclers. However, the existence of hazardous substances in some of these same items creates a bad combination that means this "informal sector" can harm people and the environment. How to engage and potentially reform this informal sector was a topic of discussion at the Electronics Recycling Asia conference, held in Singapore in mid-November. Source: Recycling Today, 11/24/14

Saturday, November 22, 2014
Sustainability in the electronics industry: 'We're trying to improve conditions for people on the planet'
Tim Mohin, chairman of the electronics industry citizenship coalition, talks about collaborating with competitors to clean up supply chains and improve working conditions in the electronics business Source: The Guardian, 11/21/14

Friday, November 21, 2014
25 essential questions to ask your suppliers on product stewardship
Product stewardship in a product's lifecycle must be a journey that incorporates the seed of a contract, through to the shoots of product design, manufacture, transport, sale, and the fruits of product use, all the way to the composting at the end of a product's life. How can procurement support this journey and challenge their suppliers? This post suggests 25 questions to ask your suppliers in order to create more sustainable products. Source: 2Degrees, 11/19/14

Amazon and 100-percent renewable energy: Will it really happen?
With one quiet web update this week, Amazon becomes the latest tech giant with a less-than-stellar sustainability track record to hail a major potential shift in strategy. Just a few months after the company hired its first corporate sustainability chief, Amazon cloud computing division Amazon Web Services has declared "a long-term commitment to achieve 100-percent renewable energy usage for our global infrastructure footprint." An Amazon spokesperson declined to elaborate on when and how the company might go about building out a clean energy portfolio, referring all questions about the company's sustainability strategy to a corporate web page. No information currently available addresses whether Amazon might be considering similar initiatives for its primary e-commerce business, which includes large warehouses and expansive transportation networks. Source: Greenbiz.com, 11/19/14

Filter developed by VTT helps recovers 80% of gold in mobile phone scrap
Mobile phone scrap can contain precious metals, such as gold and copper. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a biological filter made of mushroom mycelium mats enabling recovery of as much as 80% of the gold in electronic scrap. Extraction of copper from circuit board waste, on the other hand, can be enhanced significantly by flotation of the crushed and sieved material. Source: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, 10/4/14

Wednesday, November 19, 2014
WM exec delves into contamination concerns
Don't fear the evolving waste stream. But be judicious about what new packaging you allow in your recycling program. That was the message from a Waste Management leader speaking on an EPA webinar last week. Source: Resource Recycling, 11/18/14

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