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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Thursday, November 5, 2015
LA Kicks Off Program to Retrofit Houses to Catch Thousands of Gallons of Rainwater
If this winter comes along with a heaping side of El NiƱo, Los Angeles is going to have a wet one. If we could just save up some of that water, we might be able to cut back on the amount of water we use from other sources, like reservoirs, which would certainly be helpful in the middle of California's long drought. A new project launching today will do just that, outfitting houses (just one at first) with "high- and low-tech" additions like a rain-capturing roof, a giant cistern, and a "rain garden" designed to help store water as well as gradually replenish groundwater, says a release for the pilot. Source: Curbed LA, 11/4/15

Cleaning Products Makers Identify Top Sustainability Issues for Industry
The American Cleaning Institute (ACI) 2015 Sustainability Report highlights progress by institute members such as AkzoNobel Chemicals LLC, Amway, the Clorox Company and Colgate-Palmolive Company in environmental areas including energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, water use and solid waste generation. Source: Waste360, 11/5/15

Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Cities Can Save Money by Investing in Natural Infrastructure for Water
As costs increase, cities are realizing that investing solely in traditional, built infrastructure isn't always the best use of tight budgets. Instead, some urban areas are benefitting from natural infrastructure or "green" infrastructure, a strategically planned and managed system of natural lands, working landscapes and other natural soil and vegetation systems across a watershed or within a city, that perform many of same functions as built or "gray" infrastructure. These essential functions, often carried out by the deep roots and multi-layered tree canopies of healthy forests, include purifying water, minimizing sedimentation, regulating flow and stormwater runoff, and reducing the impact of floods and droughts. Source: World Resources Institute, 10/26/15

EPA Calls for the 21st Presidential Green Chemistry Award Nominations
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its request for nominations for its 2016 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards for companies or institutions that have developed a process or product that better protects public health and the environment. Source: U.S. EPA, 11/4/15

Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Water desalination is here. But is it sustainable?
In this opinion piece, Karin Klein discusses the positive and negatives of using desalination technology to alleviate the effects of long-term drought in California. Source: Los Angeles Times, 10/20/15

FTC says firm's biodegradable claims 'false'
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has ruled against an Ohio-based plastics film maker, calling ECM BioFilms Inc.'s claims that its product is biodegradable "false and unsubstantiated." Source: Plastics News, 10/23/15

MI: Hospitals rank among 'greenest' in US
Three West Michigan hospitals have been recognized nationally for their green practices. Source: Grand Rapids Business Journal, 10/21/15

Tech Helping Medical Devices Go Green
Even if we're loathe to admit that climate change is a thing, it makes sense for those who use the most energy to do what they can to keep their carbon footprint in check, which puts the medical industry right up near the top of the list. This article describes some ways that technology is helping the health care industry become greener. Source: Marketing:Green, 10/21/15

Health Care Facilities' Waste Management Practices Subject to Big Changes Under Proposed Rule
On September 25, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposed rule altering the regulatory regime governing the handling and disposal of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals generated at healthcare facilities and managed at pharmaceutical reverse distributors. The proposal is intended to simplify the regulatory burden of complying with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act's (RCRA) cradle-to-grave management of hazardous wastes at healthcare facilities by providing an industry-specific approach to hazardous waste regulations that takes into account the realities of waste management within the industry. Currently, facilities that generate, ship, store, or dispose of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals must comply with all of the requirement of RCRA Subtitle C. Source: National Law Journal, 10/15/15

Tech meets transparency: The rise of connected supply chains
Getting to the root cause of looming labor turmoil is just one area of activity in the growing supply chain technology industry, which is making a mark on production in sectors ranging from agriculture to electronics to apparel. Source: GreenBiz, 10/28/15

Could Carbon-Labeling Products Help the Environment?
Wouldn't it be great to have carbon footprint labels right on the products we buy? That way, we could use our dollars to tell big corporations that we actually care about climate change. Unfortunately, according to a new experiment, adding so-called "carbon reduction labels" may not have any impact on what we buy--unless the labels are designed just right. Source: Pacific Standard, 10/27/15

Illinois Companies, Organizations Honored for Achievements In Sustainability
Nineteen Illinois companies and organizations were honored October 27 for their demonstrated leadership in implementing sustainable principles and practices. The Governor's Sustainability Awards, the "Emmy Awards for Sustainability," were presented by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) during a ceremony in Chicago. ISTC is a unit of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Source: ISTC, 10/27/15

Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Proper Materials Storage Fundamental to E-Recycling
Proper storage of materials is a fundamental element of the electronics recycling R2 Standard that is addressed in Provision 9, according to SERI, which manages the R2 recycling standard. While the material storage requirements of R2:2013 are rooted in basic environmental, health and safety regulations in place in the US, the general principles and intent behind the regulations apply to all responsible recycling facilities, regardless of where they operate. Source: Environmental Leader, 10/26/15

Sustainability Leaders as Conveners
Without genuine executive sponsorship, sustainability is approached as a type of compliance checklist, each item debated until proven business-critical or until a business case shows high ROI. There are certainly easier wins linked to clear business cases, certain energy efficiency and water use projects as examples. However, high-impact initiatives in areas like product development and supply chain often feature business cases that don't have watertight proof of immediate ROI. As a result, these issues are disputed over months and even years, reinforcing the false narrative that sustainability is a "nice-to-have" but not core to business success. Source: Environmental Leader, 10/27/15

Friday, October 23, 2015
Charting a Roadmap for Green Chemistry Education: The Visioning Workshop
The word is out. Green chemistry has caught on, and the field has grown tremendously since it first emerged in the 1990s. The question now is where are we going with all this momentum? Source: ACS Green Chemistry Nexus, 10/22/15

Dell cuts e-waste with recycled carbon fiber
In 2013, as part of its 2020 Legacy of Good Plan, Dell established two objectives tied to cutting down on e-waste: using 50 million pounds of recycled materials and recovering 2 billion pounds of e-waste by 2020. The company has made notable progress toward these goals -- since 2013, it has incorporated into products more than 21 million pounds of recycled plastics from sources including water bottles and CD cases, and has recovered 1.2 billion pounds of e-waste. But the company wanted to secure its own waste stream to free it from the volatile global plastics market, which can fluctuate depending on the price of oil and other mounting competition for recycled plastics. That's why in 2014, Dell launched its closed-loop recycled plastics supply chain, which has since recycled more than 4 million pounds of plastics into new products. Certified by UL Environment as the first closed-loop supply chain, the program entails collecting, recycling and using e-waste to make new Dell products. Building on its closed-loop recycling operations, Dell earlier this month announced a partnership with supplier SABIC to recycle excess carbon fiber and scrap raw materials into new Dell products beginning in late 2015. Source: GreenBiz, 10/23/15

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