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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Thursday, May 11, 2017
More people, more trash? Rethinking waste from New York to Beijing
It would be difficult to find a more fundamental urban environmental issue than solid waste disposal. It is clear that effective waste management is essential to the development of sustainable cities. Many cities around the world are implementing innovative measures to deal with waste and are increasingly incorporating waste management into sustainability plans. Source: GreenBiz, 5/11/17

Got plants? Bio-based shoes, lingerie, auto parts and more
Lately, bio-based alternatives have begun making inroads. Now, businesses can buy durable plastic-like industrial materials without petroleum-based polymers. And consumers can -- and do -- buy grocery bags, cups, forks and spoons that act like plastic but are biodegradable and compostable. They can even buy soft, washable fabrics that seem like nylon but are made of plants and biodegrade. Even shoemakers are walking in this direction: Adidas AG's Reebok unit is manufacturing a corn-based sneaker for sale later this year. Source: GreenBiz, 5/11/17

Dell Says the Circular Economy Is Good for Business: Q&A with Michael Murphy
At Dell, obsolete electronics are viewed as a resource rather than waste. In North America, the Dell Reconnect program with Goodwill Industries accepts computer equipment of any brand for refurbishment or recycling. Since 2008, the company reports that it has collected 1.6 billion pounds of electronics from its global take-back programs.

Scaling up is essential, especially to meet aggressive goals for incorporating post-consumer recycled content (PCR) into products, according to Michael Murphy, vice president of global product compliance engineering and environmental affairs at Dell Technologies. Murphy will be talking about the circular economy at the 2017 Environmental Leader Conference in June. Recently Environmental Leader caught up with him to find out how the world's largest technology recycler is closing the loop. Source: Environmental Leader, 5/10/17

Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Food packaging gets smart -- and poses a recycling nightmare
Use of electronics in packaging is on the rise, raising questions about the recyclability of everyday products. Source: The Guardian, 5/10/17

Biofuels: could agave, hemp and saltbush be the fuels of the future?
Oilier plants, new processing technologies and multipurpose crops could put the biofuel industry back in the race for greener transport fuels. Source: The Guardian, 5/9/17

Cities Boost Efforts to Reduce Energy Waste: Here's How They Rank
As the federal government weighs budget cuts to energy efficiency programs, cities are stepping up efforts to reduce energy waste. More mayors and local lawmakers in America's largest cities are turning to energy efficiency to reduce energy costs for consumers and businesses, strengthen the resilience of their communities, and reduce pollution, according to the third edition of the City Energy Efficiency Scorecard, released today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Source: ACEEE, 5/10/17

Treating wastewater wastes energy, but it doesn't have to
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) has set a target to be energy-neutral by 2023, following the lead of plants in the United Kingdom, Denmark and the East Bay Municipal Utility District in Oakland, California, which has moved beyond net-zero energy to actually selling energy back to the grid. These innovators are using a variety of technologies to reduce the electricity they use through energy efficiency and to generate electricity onsite to offset what they do use. Source: GreenBiz, 4/3/17

Lead Dust From Firearms Can Pose A Silent Health Risk
Firearms safety is key for people who use weapons at work or for recreational shooting. But one risk has been little acknowledged: Lead dust exposure. Source: NPR, 5/10/17

Upcoming RCRA Changes and How They'll Affect Your Business
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the law that oversees the proper management of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste, is seeing some major updates go into effect on May 30, 2017. Source: Iowa Waste Reduction Center, 3/16/17

Monday, May 8, 2017
Waste not, want not
Ontario manufacturer to save tens of thousands of dollars a year by reducing water usage. Source: Manufacturing Automation, 2/13/17

Green, fast locomotives coming to region
The Siemens Chargers, which are due to arrive by fall, meet the Environmental Protection Agency's "tier four" standards. Source: Great Lakes Echo, 5/8/17

Killing Energy Star: A Popular Program Lands on the Trump Hit List
It is widely regarded as a success -- a voluntary program that has been a win-win for industry, consumers, and energy conservation. So why does the Trump administration want to get rid of Energy Star? Source: Yale e360, 5/4/17

Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Self-charging battery could put an end to your phone dying
Source: The Telegraph, 4/25/17

Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Process invented to make sustainable rubber, plastics
Synthetic rubber and plastics -- used for manufacturing tires, toys and myriad other products -- are produced from butadiene, a molecule traditionally made from petroleum or natural gas. But those humanmade materials could get a lot greener soon, thanks to a team of scientists that has invented a process to make butadiene from renewable sources. Source: University of Delaware via Science Daily, 4/24/17

Caterpillar found to eat shopping bags, suggesting biodegradable solution to plastic pollution
A common insect larva that eats beeswax has been found to break down chemical bonds in the plastic used for packaging and shopping bags at uniquely high speeds. Scientists say the discovery could lead to a biotechnological approach to the polyethylene waste that chokes oceans and landfills. Source: University of Cambridge, 4/24/17

Apple Forces Recyclers to Shred All iPhones and MacBooks
Apple released its Environmental Responsibility Report Wednesday, an annual grandstanding effort that the company uses to position itself as a progressive, environmentally friendly company. Behind the scenes, though, the company undermines attempts to prolong the lifespan of its products. Source: Motherboard, 4/20/17

Google Request Exacerbates South Carolina Water Wars
Google has requested 1.5 million gallons of groundwater per day to cool the servers at its Berkeley County facility, hoping to draw the water from the county's aquifer. The company already uses about 4 million gallons of surface water per day, writes the Post & Courier (via Mashable). Google has studied various options for cooling its servers and has found that pumping groundwater was the best solution.

The request comes at a time when a commercial boom in the area has led to companies (and residents) using water at a faster rate than the aquifers can replenish. Scientists are currently studying the area's water situation, attempting to determine how much water from the aquifers can be used before depleting supplies of groundwater. Source: Environmental Leader, 4/24/17

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