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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Testing their metal: The new tech sector focus on conflict minerals
Intel made tremendous strides over the past seven years in eliminating so-called conflict -- aka "blood" -- minerals from much of its product line. But even though it has pretty much met its own commitment, don't expect the microprocessor giant to back off its awareness campaign. Now, Intel is encouraging other tech organizations to become far more aggressive about shunning tin, tantalum, gold and tungsten mined from unverified sources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Source: GreenBiz, 1/20/16

How HP and Dell are reducing the toxics in their electronics
Around the world, electronics companies are working to reduce their use of chemicals that are known to be hazardous to human health, the environment or both. Source: GreenBiz, 1/20/16

Food reduction goals open composting business opportunities
Composting helps to generate industry programs and jobs, and also plays a role in storm water management and erosion control, all while supporting food growers. But a food waste elimination model is not an immediate cash cow; there are startup investments and plenty of ongoing expenses. Then there's one big, overarching challenge: teaching and motivating consumers to change their habits. Source: WasteDive, 12/21/15

What's holding green products back?
Trim Tab talked with Jeffrey Hollender and John Warner about how business and green chemistry are using both approaches to change the manufacturing industry, and how the sustainable products industry effectively can address the social and environmental challenges we face. Source: GreenBiz, 1/20/16

Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Interns: A secret weapon to curb corporate pollution
In the latest P2 Impact column, Cyrus Philbrick and Laura Barnes write about the long-term impact of pollution prevention intern programs, both on the students and companies that participate. Source: GreenBiz, 1/19/16

Children as young as seven mining cobalt used in smartphones, says Amnesty
Children as young as seven are working in perilous conditions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to mine cobalt that ends up in smartphones, cars and computers sold to millions across the world, by household brands including Apple, Microsoft and Vodafone, according to a new investigation by Amnesty International. The human rights group claims to have traced cobalt used in lithium batteries sold to 16 multinational brands to mines where young children and adults are being paid a dollar a day, working in life-threatening conditions and subjected to violence, extortion and intimidation. More than half the world's supply of cobalt comes from the DRC, with 20% of cobalt exported coming from artisanal mines in the southern part of the country. In 2012, Unicef estimated that there were 40,000 children working in all the mines across the south, many involved in mining cobalt. Source: The Guardian, 1/19/16

Thursday, January 14, 2016
The Burning Truth Behind an E-Waste Dump in Africa
During the last decade, some of the world's most respected media organizations have transformed Agbogbloshie into a symbol of what's believed to be a growing crisis: the export--or dumping--of electronic waste from rich, developed countries into Africa. It's a concise narrative that resonates strongly in a technology-obsessed world. There's just one problem: The story is not that simple. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, 85 percent of the e-waste dumped in Ghana and other parts of West Africa is produced in Ghana and West Africa. In other words, ending the export of used electronics from the wealthy developed world won't end the burning in Agbogbloshie. The solution must come from West Africa itself and the people who depend upon e-waste to make a living. Source: Smithsonian Magazine, 1/13/16

Wednesday, January 13, 2016
A Brilliant MIT Invention Makes Incandescent Bulbs As Efficient As LEDs
An energy-saving light bulb containing LEDs uses up to 80% less energy and lasts up to 25 times as long as a traditional incandescent bulb. There's just one problem: many people think that the quality of light coming from an LED bulb feels less natural. A new innovation from MIT might help consumers get the best of both worlds, bringing the incandescent bulb closer in line with the energy efficiency of LED lights while maintaining its homey glow. Source: Fast Company, 1/13/16

Monday, January 11, 2016
What smart businesses know about corporate social responsibility
Companies that are most successful in turning CSR into a business advantage do these three things well. Source: Ensia, 12/24/15

Carbon capture analyst: 'Coal should stay in the ground'
Serious flaws have been found in a decade's worth of studies about the best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stabilize the climate. The findings, from the University of Michigan, are released as world leaders at COP21 attempt to negotiate the globe's first internationally binding climate agreement. Source: University of Michigan, 12/2/15

Congress Poised To Finalize New Chemical Safety Law
Legislation: Lawmakers' negotiations expected to culminate in early 2016. Source: Chemical & Engineering News, 1/6/16

Predictions and Outlook for EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) 2016
Even if Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) legislation is not enacted, 2016 will be a momentous year. As the curtain closes on eight years of the Obama Administration, there are a number of items expected to be among the "legacy" issues in the chemical and pesticide regulation space. Enhanced protections for farmworkers, more protective assessment policies, and a re-energized toxic chemical assessment program are among the short list of notable achievements that will have some remaining work to complete as we enter the New Year. At the same time, there are significant issues over which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has little control but that could, nonetheless, drive the program's agenda for years to come. Specifically, there are two large unknowns for OCSPP: (1) will there be enactment of substantial amendments to TSCA; and (2) will litigation over implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) result in a virtual halt to new pesticide active ingredient registrations. And all of this for 2016 will take place in the context of a Presidential Election Year with some of the leading party candidates declaring their commitment to doing away with EPA altogether if elected. For a political junkie, it may not get better than this; for an interested stakeholder in the world of pesticide and chemical regulation, the uncertainty could be bruising. Source: J.S. Supra Business Advisor, 1/6/16

Food Wrapper Chemicals Banned
Three perfluoroalkyl ethyl-containing substances that repel grease and water can no longer be used to coat paper that comes into contact with food sold in the U.S., the Food & Drug Administration announced on Jan. 4. FDA's action comes in response to a 2014 petition by environmental and public health groups that claim the chemicals are linked to cancer and birth defects. Source: Chemical & Engineering News, 1/11/16

Study: Second-generation biofuels can reduce emissions
Second-generation biofuel crops like the perennial grasses Miscanthus and switchgrass can efficiently meet emission reduction goals without significantly displacing cropland used for food production, according to a new study. Researchers from the University of Illinois and collaborators published their findings in the inaugural edition of the journal Nature Energy. The researchers call it the most comprehensive study on the subject to date. Source: University of Illinois, 1/11/16

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