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Environmental News


Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Friday, January 6, 2017
80% of Companies Don't Know If Their Products Contain Conflict Minerals
Manufacturing used to be highly vertically integrated in the U.S. For example, Ford's River Rouge plant not only assembled cars but also made its own steel, glass, fabrics, power, and cement on-site. But since outsourcing has become an increasingly common approach to cutting costs, many producers now rely heavily on globally dispersed supply chains. For example, Apple works with at least 200 suppliers and 242 smelters and refineries across the world. There are similar stories in the electronics industry, pet food, pharmaceuticals, and even national security. It's no wonder so many consumers have no idea where their favorite brands come from. But are businesses any better informed than their customers? We wanted to find out. (Article by Yong H. Kim and Gerald F. Davis.) Source: Harvard Business Review, 1/4/17

Trending: Emerson, AT&T, London Startup Find More Creative Ways to Fight Food Waste
Food waste poses a significant risk to both food security and the planet, but new technologies and creative reuses of waste streams are pushing the food industry towards more sustainable, circular models. Source: Sustainable Brands, 1/6/17

EPA Exploring Revisions to RCRA Waste Handling Regulations for Retailers
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") is pursuing plans to address the unique challenges faced by retailers in complying with the waste handling regulations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act ("RCRA"). In particular, retailers must make hazardous waste determinations for a diverse and ever-changing lineup of products, and the "reverse distribution" process raises a number of compliance questions exclusive to the retail industry. The agency's initiative has been in the works for a number of years (since 2008), but gained renewed momentum when EPA released its Strategy for Addressing the Retail Sector under RCRA's Regulatory Framework last Fall. Given the goal of reducing regulatory burdens, implementation of the Strategy is expected to continue with the incoming Trump Administration. Source: Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, 1/3/17

Here's why 2017 will be the year of the circular economy revolution
The circular economy has captured the imagination of brands, cities and innovators. Will 2017 be the year when the concept evolves from aspiration to profitable action? This article outlines four reasons why these circular economy investors believe this year will mark a shift from idea to action. Source: GreenBiz, 1/5/17

Addition of Natural Gas Processing Facilities to the Toxics Release Inventory Proposed Rule
EPA is proposing to add natural gas processing facilities to the scope of the industrial sectors covered by the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). This rule proposes to expand coverage to all natural gas processing facilities, which receive and refine natural gas. Natural gas processing facilities that primarily recover sulfur from natural gas are already covered by TRI. Facilities primarily engaged in natural gas extraction (e.g., exploration, fracking, etc.) are not included in this proposal. Source: U.S. EPA, 1/6/2017

EPA Recognizes Electronics Manufacturers, Retailers and Brand Owners for Making Electronics More Sustainable
Tomorrow, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will recognize leading electronics manufacturers, retailers, and brand owners for their significant contributions in diverting electronics from landfills. The winners will be honored during an event at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Electronic products are a global economic driver, with supply chains reaching around the world. By designing with the environment in mind and through a lifecycle lens, the product can be made to be more readily repairable and reusable, while toxic materials can be designed out of the product, which extends product life and facilitates recycling. In the spirit of innovation, the EPA is unveiling a new award this year: The Cutting Edge Award. This award promotes bold ideas that have the potential to make a huge impact on the future of sustainable electronics management across a product's full supply chain. It is designed to encourage life cycle thinking while creating ambitious and new ideas that have the potential to be game changers in addressing sustainability in electronics. Source: US EPA, 1/6/17

Thursday, January 5, 2017
Republicans can cancel some Obama environment rules. But they'll have to choose carefully.
Two bills under consideration in Congress, each expected to go to a swift vote, could help expedite the process of undoing recent regulations -- or even make it more difficult to pass them in the first place. Source: Washington Post, 1/4/17

Wednesday, January 4, 2017
It's time to stop overspending our freshwater budget
If freshwater is to remain a renewable resource, we must balance supply and demand on farms, in cities, in industry and in power production. Source: Ensia, 12/14/16

How does workplace safety and health align with sustainability?
OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels reveals surprising connections, as well as where employee engagement comes into play. Source: GreenBiz, 1/4/17

Engineering rice to waste less fertilizer
Cutting rice's ability to pack phosphorus into its seeds wouldn't hurt the crop's nutritional value, but it could cut our need for fertilizer, along with its economic and environmental consequences. So a team of Japanese researchers decided to find out how phosphorus ends up in rice grains in the first place. Source: Ars Technica, 12/21/16

Tuesday, January 3, 2017
The dirty secret about your clothes
A new crop of small businesses are investing in organic farming, natural dyes and a transparent supply chain that encourages shoppers to think about the effect of their purchases -- and they're selling their products online and in a small but growing number of U.S. stores, from small trendy boutiques to Target. Source: Washington Post, 12/30/16

Minneapolis' citizen-centric approach to climate action
Amid growing climate impacts, the City of Lakes is fighting back with a citizen-backed action strategy. Source: GreenBiz, 1/3/17

Call for Abstracts for Emerging Contaminants in the Aquatic Environment Conference
Abstracts are welcome on all aspects of emerging contaminants in the aquatic environment. Topics may include: research, policy, management, outreach, and education about their detection, fate, transport, remediation, and prevention. Abstracts are due by January 31, 2017. Source: Illinois Indiana Sea Grant Program,

To detox manufacturing, businesses find a secret ingredient
In the most recent P2 Impact column, Pam Eliason of TURI describes how five companies used peer mentoring and networking to share ideas and strategies for improving chemical management. Source: GreenBiz, 12/19/16

Study Links A Warming Climate To Changes In Great Lakes Food Web
A warming climate is transforming the base of the food web in the Great Lakes, according to a new study published recently in the scientific journal "Limnology and Oceanography." Researchers say rising lake temperatures could spell changes for the rest of the food chain. Source: Wisconsin Public Radio, 12/6/16

Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Superior soap molecule from renewable sources wins top Dow SISCA prize
A team that created a soap molecule made from renewable materials has won the $10,000 first prize in the Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award competition held Dec. 6 at the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment in St. Paul. Source: University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment, 12/13/16

Trimming the pork: IonE research guides first major meat industry GHG reductions
Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer, announced its commitment yesterday to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its supply chain 25 percent by 2025. The move is the first of its kind among large meat producers.

The NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise (NiSE), a strategic initiative of the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment, partnered with Smithfield and the Environmental Defense Fund to develop the science behind the commitment. Source: University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment, 12/6/16


4 million Americans could be drinking toxic water and would never know
About 4 million Americans who get their water from tiny utilities could be exposed to water contaminated by lead because the nation's drinking-water enforcement system doesn't make small utilities play by the same safety rules as big ones. Source: Detroit Free Press, 12/13/16

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