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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Environmental group finds toxic chemicals in university promotional items
Both University of Michigan and Michigan State University fan gear contained varying levels of potentially toxic chemicals, according to a recent study by the Ecology Center, an Ann Arbor-based nonprofit environmental organization. Source: Great Lakes Echo, 3/26/14

EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Clarify Protection for Nation's Streams and Wetlands
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) today jointly released a proposed rule to clarify protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation's water resources. The proposed rule will benefit businesses by increasing efficiency in determining coverage of the Clean Water Act. The agencies are launching a robust outreach effort over the next 90 days, holding discussions around the country and gathering input needed to shape a final rule. Source: U.S. EPA, 3/25/14

Wooden Skyscrapers Get Federal Support
The federal government is promoting an alternative building material for skyscrapers that's as strong as steel or concrete, but with a smaller price tag and environmental footprint. The miracle product? Wood. Source: FutureStructure, 3/21/14

Smart Cities and the Technology of Walking
Fueled by a fundamental shift in the way people move about communities, cities, and regions, new innovations are being introduced that can make walking a high-tech exercise. Source: FutureStructure, 3/24/14

Building 21st-Century Cities Means Taking the Long View
Sustainability is not just intended to mitigate climate change -- it's also about finding ways to be resilient and live alongside the environment. Source: FutureStructure, 3/25/14

IN: Governor to sign Indiana recycling bill
Gov. Mike Pence will sign legislation that sets a goal for Indiana of eventually recycling at least half of the municipal waste in the state, his spokeswoman said Wednesday. Source: Indiana Business Journal, 3/12/14

Tuesday, March 25, 2014
How to deliver the "whole sustainability package" in 4 steps
In their article for GreenBiz's P2 Impact column, "How to deliver the "whole sustainability package" in 4 steps," authors Josephine Fleming and Deidra Cole explain how benchmarks, data tracking, team work and communication are all key to building a sustainability plan that resonates with consumers. Source: GreenBiz, 3/18/14

Sunday, March 23, 2014
How sustainable is your smartphone?
Smartphones are owned by one in five people and have changed how many of the world's most important industries work -- from journalism to farming. But their production carries a cost; using more than 40 elements that are mined with untold environmental and social effects on every inhabited continent on earth. This interactive from the Friends of the Earth and The Guardian takes a detailed look at positive and negative impacts your smartphone has made on people and planet. Source: The Guardian, 3/20/14

Saturday, March 15, 2014
European Research Center Backs Climate-Friendly Coolant for Car Air Conditioners, Global Automakers Moving Forward
The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) issued its final report last week reaffirming the safety of the new climate-friendly coolant for car air conditioners called HFO-1234yf (R-1234yf). The European experts flatly rejected fire risk claims leveled 18 months ago by Daimler (the maker of Mercedes-Benz), concluding that extensive testing "provided no evidence of a serious risk." Source: NRDC, 3/13/14

Renault, JLR, Nissan and Toyota drive car industry towards sustainability
Automotive sector takes positive steps towards a circular economy through remanufacturing and materials innovation. Source: The Guardian, 3/14/14

How to create system change that solves sustainability challenges
Shifting a whole system, such as food, is a big ask. A map that shows the big picture can help companies make each right turn. Source: The Guardian, 3/14/14

Green cleaning: The journey from niche to mainstream
Green cleaning is no longer niche, with an increasing number of certifications and other tools that have pushed it into the mainstream. Source: GreenBiz, 3/7/14

Lignin in the Laboratory
The use of lignin could bring about a green, cost-effective way to develop adhesives and sealants. Source: Adhesives & Sealants Industry, 3/1/14

What's Next for the Aerospace NESHAP?
Will it be business as usual or are major changes in store for the aerospace industry as feds look at 40 CFR Part 63 Subpart GG, commonly referred to as the Aerospace National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants, or NESHAP. Source: Products Finishing, 3/1/14

Consumers may change behavior if delivered the right message
Education might move a specific group of people to action, if the message is right and the action steps are clear (and offer bragging rights). Source: GreenBiz, 3/14/14

Friday, March 14, 2014
A Wild Idea: Making Our Smartphones Last Longer
Despite their small size, smartphones are expensive, resource-hungry goods, and they deserve a better life cycle than two years of use followed by an eternity in a forgotten desk drawer. It is possible to buy smartphones with an eye to longevity -- a strategy that will save money and global resources and give you the snooty self-satisfaction of knowing you're shunning gadget consumerism. Source: New York Times, 3/12/14

Bad Apple? Groups protest chemicals used in iPhones
SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple's labor practices are under attack by two activist groups who contend the company makes its iPhones with a hazardous mix of chemicals that threaten the health of factory workers assembling the devices in China. The campaign began Wednesday with an online petition put together by China Labor Watch, a longtime Apple critic, and Green America, an environmental protection group. If enough consumers sign the "Bad Apple" petition, the two groups hope to pressure the company into abandoning the use of two chemicals, benzene and n-hexane, in the production of the iPhone, Apple's top-selling product. Benzene is a carcinogen that can cause leukemia if not handled properly and n-hexane has been linked to nerve damage. Source: Associate Press via San Jose Mercury News, 3/13/14

Sims Recycling Solutions joins the Green Grid
Sims Recycling Solutions, with Americas headquarters in West Chicago, Ill., has announced its membership in The Green Grid, Beaverton, Ore. Sims says its membership will offer the opportunity to provide The Green Grid with global expertise regarding the responsible and efficient disposal of electronics. The Green Grid is a global consortium of companies, government agencies, educational institutions and individuals dedicated to advancing resource efficiency in information technology and data centers. Members seek to create a common set of metrics and to develop technical resources and educational tools to further the goals of The Green Grid. Source: Recycling Today, 3/13/14

Why Europe's 'opt in' rules on conflict minerals will fail to spark change
When MEP Judith Sargentini said she hoped the EU Commission would "bring forward the strongest possible legislation" on conflict minerals disclosure, she meant it. Her statement followed a vote by MEPs to back her proposals on tackling the conflict minerals trade. "Voluntary projects will not do the trick," she said. "We need binding rules covering a comprehensive list of natural resources and not just a narrow list of minerals." But the EU Commission clearly wasn't listening, or at the very least it was listening to other voices, because it has now removed any reference to mandatory reporting from its proposals. Source: The Guardian, 3/13/14

Hawaii lawmakers push electronics recycling rules
HONOLULU -- Hawaii lawmakers have proposed that manufacturers of electronics goods must recycle 50 percent of the pounds of products that each company sells in the state. Senate Bill 2857 was heard in the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee on Tuesday. Its goal is to give residents on neighbor islands more options to recycle their old televisions, cell phones and a myriad of electronic devices. Source: Associated Press via West Hawaii Today, 3/12/14

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