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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Introducing handprinting: the good you do minus your footprint
Dassault Systemes, Eaton Corp., Johnson & Johnson and others have developed a method for calculating the good an organization does through influencing its supply chain and more. Source: GreenBiz, 2/16/15

Reporting Pollution Prevention to TRI [Video]
Video for Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting facilities on the benefits of reporting pollution prevention information to TRI, with perspectives from industry and EPA. Source: EPA via YouTube, 2/15/15

Friday, February 13, 2015
IL: Electronics recycling centers dwindling
Electronics recycling may become as scarce as a Beta video player by this summer, according to some environmentalists. After three years of banning electronics from landfills, Illinois' recycling program may be a victim of its success and what some see as the built-in obsolescence of electronics. The 2012 Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act banned 17 electronic items from trash dumps and required manufacturers to recycle a certain amount of unwanted items based on a rather convoluted formula. But once manufacturers met the annual goals, they no longer had to pay recycling firms to process the goods. So recyclers started to charge their customers, many of which are local governments like Orland Township, or they went out of business. The state's formula could be debated in the legislature this year because some legislators want to require electonics manufacturers to recycle more. If they don't, recycling could shift to consumers or to local governments that operate recycling sites. Source: Chicago Tribune, 2/9/15

Tesla plans a home battery pack to help keep the lights on
Tesla's crusade against fossil fuels could soon hit home with a battery-powered energy pack. The company plans to start producing a home battery within six months, Bloomberg reports, and will reveal more details in the next month or two. One obvious application would be a source for backup power, replacing conventional fuel-powered generators. The upcoming Toyota Mirai hydrogen-powered car can also function as a backup power source for a house. But the Tesla pack could also help shift energy usage to reduce peak demand on the electric grid, thereby cutting down on energy bills. In an earnings call, Tesla Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel hinted at strong interest from utility companies for that very reason. Source: PC World, 2/12/15

Volkswagen to Invest $10 Million in U.S. EV Charging Infrastructure
It took 50 years from the time the first gas stations cropped up until a nationwide network of gasoline and diesel filling stations emerged. Despite technological, economic and political obstacles, building out a nationwide web of electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations and supporting infrastructure is likely to emerge in far less time, perhaps as little as two decades. On Jan. 23, two of the world's largest automakers -- Volkswagen and BMW -- announced they are teaming up with ChargePoint to build out EV fast-charging station corridors on the U.S. East and West coasts. The project is the largest and most ambitious since Tesla announced plans to build out a cross-country chain of EV charging stations back in late 2012. Source: Triple Pundit, 2/13/15

Apple Invests $3 Billion in Solar Energy
Apple is going all-in on solar energy, to tune of nearly $3 billion for solar facilities in California and Arizona. First, the company this week said it will partner with First Solar on a 2,900-acre solar farm in Monterey County, California. Apple has committed $848 million for clean energy from the California Flats solar farm, First Solar said in a press release. Apple is also making a big renewable energy splash involving its data centers, which use massive amounts of power. Earlier this month the company said a new data center in Arizona will be powered entirely by renewable energy, most of which will come from a new local solar farm. Apple said it will invest about $2 billion for the data center, which will produce 70 megawatts of clean energy, enough to power more than 14,500 Arizona homes. Source: Triple Pundit, 2/13/15

Thursday, February 12, 2015
New Release: Second Nature Sustainability Sit-Downs Video #4
This week's video features Tim Carter, President of Second Nature, discussing higher education's role in making a sustainability society. Sustainability Sit-Downs is a new Second Nature video series consisting of 12 short interviews with sustainability leaders in higher education and partner organizations. A new video will be released every Wednesday. Source: Second Nature, 2/12/15

Why eliminating landfill waste makes sound business sense
Unilever has achieved zero non-hazardous waste to landfill ahead of its target date, and has created jobs and reduced costs in the process. Source: The Guardian, 2/12/15

Wednesday, February 11, 2015
How one bacterium could help ease reliance on food crops for biofuel
A lowly bacterium, once sidelined in biofuel production, may help reduce production costs in converting crop residue and other non-crop plants into fuel. Source: Christian Science Monitor, 2/2/15

Michigan's bald eagles full of flame retardants
Michigan's bald eagles are among the most contaminated birds on the planet when it comes to phased-out flame retardant chemicals in their livers, according to new research. Source: Environmental Health News, 2/9/15

Ecolab brings solar to Twin Cities, hoping the Midwest sees the light
Ecolab is signing up to be an anchor tenant -- not in a mall, but in community solar gardens in Minnesota. Headquartered in St. Paul, the Fortune 500 company will run completely on solar in Minnesota by purchasing space at solar gardens being built by SunEdison. Source: GreenBiz, 2/9/15

Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Worried You're Breathing Polluted Air? There's An App For That.
We have smartphone apps to tell us where our friends are checking in for drinks, the best restaurant within walking distance, and even the quickest route to the nearest bathroom. But did you ever expect you'd be checking your phone to figure out the best place to take a deep breath? That's exactly what entrepreneur Ziv Lautman would like you to do. Lautman is the co-creator of BreezoMeter, an app that tracks and displays real-time air quality reports, allowing users to see not only the cleanliness of what they're breathing in, but also where in their city they can find cleaner, fresher air. Source: Good Magazine, 2/9/15

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