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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Friday, February 10, 2017
Chemicals from Air Force base seep into wells, Lake Huron
Residents near an abandoned military base in Michigan are worried about an unseen invader: toxic chemicals that have contaminated wells in the town of Oscoda. Now the chemicals are spreading farther -- and have even reached Lake Huron. Source: WBFO, 1/27/17

Samsung's Note 7 recycling center catches fire, company blames faulty batteries
On Wednesday, 19 fire engines and 110 firemen reported to a fire at Samsung SDI's Chinese manufacturing facility in Tianjin. The fire was put out without widespread damage to the plant, which mostly remained on a normal manufacturing schedule. As for where the fire started and what caused it, there's some confusion in that regard. According to Samsung SDI spokesperson Shin Yong-doo, the fire began in a part of the facility used for waste and faulty batteries -- and, of course, the Samsung SDI subsidiary in China was responsible for manufacturing many of the batteries in the Note 7 that failed under stress. There's no indication that it was actually Note 7 batteries, specifically, that caused the failure -- but the Wuqing branch of the Tianjin fire department had a rather different explanation for what had happened. According to them (and Reuters) the "material that caught fire was lithium batteries inside the production workshops and some half-finished products." If that's true, it implies some other problem at the plant -- which may be precisely why Samsung SDI put the blame on the recycling division. Source: Extreme Tech, 2/9/17

Thursday, February 9, 2017
Comment Period Extended for Two Rules on TCE
EPA is extending the comment period for two proposed rules on Trichloroethylene (TCE), a toxic chemical with human health concerns identified by EPA in a 2014 risk assessment. EPA proposed these rules in December and January to ban certain uses of the chemical in aerosol degreasing, as a spot cleaner in dry cleaning facilities, and in commercial vapor degreasing.

The comment period for the proposed ban on TCE as an aerosol degreaser and for spot cleaning in dry cleaning facilities is extended to March 16.

The comment period for the proposed ban on TCE as a commercial vapor degreaser is extended to April 19. Source: U.S. EPA, 2/9/17


Milwaukee bans coal-tar sealants after study shows they pollute streams
Milwaukee banned coal-tar sealants Tuesday after a study blamed them for contaminating streams. Source: Great Lakes Echo, 2/8/17

Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Bacardi Circular Economy Initiative Diverts Fruit Waste from Bars, Produces Soap
Bacardi's 42Below Vodka brand's circular economy initiative -- the project collects used lemons, martini olives and other fruit waste from bars, turns it into liquid soap and sends it back to the bars for free -- has diverted 400 kilograms of fruit waste from landfills since it launched in December 2016. Source: Environmental Leader, 2/6/17

Friday, February 3, 2017
In America's Heartland, Discussing Climate Change Without Saying 'Climate Change'
In north-central Kansas, America's breadbasket and conservative heartland, the economic realities of agriculture make climate change a critical business issue. At the same time, politics and social pressure make frank discussion complicated. This is wheat country, and Donald J. Trump country, and though the weather is acting up, the conservative orthodoxy maintains that the science isn't settled. So while climate change is part of daily conversation, it gets disguised as something else. Source: New York Times, 1/28/17

Chemical Challenge Targets Technologies to Overcome Environmental Management Hurdles
The aim of the AkzoNobel Chemicals Startup Challenge, launched in conjunction with KPMG, is to identify interesting startups and solutions that have a strategic fit with AkzoNobel's businesses and develop partnerships with them. The challenge will give the winners the chance to see their ideas become a commercial reality. Source: Environmental Leader, 2/3/17

Thursday, February 2, 2017
Is your sustainable supply chain program really as good as you think?
The trend is clear: companies are increasingly engaging their suppliers and investing in transparent networks. But is it enough? Source: GreenBiz, 2/1/17

6 insights for creating a great sustainability video
A veteran producer shares how to tell a compelling story worth sharing. Source: GreenBiz, 2/1/17

IL: Area stores join movement to sell 'ugly' foods, reduce waste
Hy-Vee has partnered with global produce company Robinson Fresh to offer a line of "Misfits," or "ugly" produce, at almost all of its more than 240 stores, according to a news release from Hy-Vee. The items are delivered weekly based on what's available, and are sold on average at a 30 percent discount, the release said. Source: Daily Review Atlas, 1/28/17

Private Capital Investments in Conservation Have Taken Off Since 2013
Banks and fund managers have funneled billions of dollars into investments aimed at delivering measurable environmental benefits as much as financial returns. Source: Pacific Standard, 2/1/17

Why Build Green? Lowered Operational Costs, Increased Staff Productivity and Higher Asset Values
Green building continues to play a growing role in the construction industry, with building industry professionals forecasting that more than 60 percent of their projects will be "green" by 2018. Source: Environmental Leader, 2/2/17

Certification Helps Printing Facilities Cut Operational Expenses
Environmental best practices such as recycling and reducing emissions can also help printing facilities cut their operating expenses, according to the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP). Source: Environmental Leader, 2/2/17

Tokyo Olympics: Medals to be made from recycled mobile phones donated by the public
Organisers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics say the medals will be forged from recycled metal from old mobile phones and appliances donated by the general public to give them a sense of direct involvement in the Games. Source: Australian Broadcasting Corp, 2/1/17

MN: Discounts available to switch out solvent-based parts washers
The MPCA has developed a pilot project in partnership with Safety-Kleen that will give a 25% discount to small businesses who switch from a solvent to an aqueous-based parts washer. Source: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 12/14/16

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