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Environmental News


Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Friday, August 7, 2015
Why the outdoor industry needs to climb Mount Sustainability
It helps people fall in love with the natural world, and the sector is known for several sustainability stars, but the entire sector can do more. Source: GreenBiz, 8/7/15

McConnell: Chemical reform could get a vote in the fall
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that an overhaul of federal chemical safety laws could come up for a vote when lawmakers return from their summer recess. Source: The Hill, 8/6/15

Green Surfactants Close to Surface
From cosmetics and pharmaceuticals to agricultural products and paint, surfactants are ubiquitous in consumer and industrial areas. The compounds make up a multi-billion-dollar market, according to the NSF. Taking cues from surfactants made by common bacteria, the Univ. of Arizona research team is exploring new biosurfactants based on sugars generally referred to as glycolipids. The sugar structure ensure the surfactants are biodegradable. Source: R&D Magazine, 8/6/15

Thursday, August 6, 2015
Meet the companies trying to break our plastic addiction
The fate of the world's oceans may rest inside a stainless steel tank not quite the size of a small beer keg. Inside, genetically modified bacteria turn corn syrup into a churning mass of polymers that can be used to produce a wide variety of common plastics. Source: GreenBiz, 8/6/15

Solar farm construction begins on UI campus
After several years of design and delay, construction has finally begun on a new "solar farm" at the University of Illinois. Source: Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, 8/1/15

Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Demand-Side Energy Efficiency in the Final Clean Power Plan
Yesterday, President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled the final version of the Clean Power Plan--the nation's first ever federal regulatory standards to address carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants. One significant change in the final rule is that EPA is no longer including demand-side energy efficiency as one of the "building blocks" used to determine the CO2 emissions performance rates for existing power plants. Fortunately, energy efficiency can still be used as a compliance measure, and EPA expects that energy efficiency will play a major role in meeting the state targets because it is a "cost-effective and widely-available carbon reduction tool." Source: Climate Law Blog, 8/4/15

3 strategies to shape more efficient water systems
The drought ravaging the American West provides a case study on what could be done to shore up the water supply. Source: GreenBiz, 8/3/15

5 steps to build the business case for sustainable procurement
It's not always easy to sell a supply-chain makeover, but these tips can help. Start with measuring your company's footprint. Source: GreenBiz, 8/3/15

5 core competencies of sustainability leadership
To achieve lasting change, the entire C-suite should demonstrate emotional intelligence, systems thinking and these other qualities. Source: GreenBiz, 8/4/15

Friday, July 31, 2015
EPA Reaches Agreement with Manufacturer to Stop Use of TCE in Spray Fixative Products Used on Arts and Crafts
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached an agreement with a manufacturer to voluntarily phase-out the use of trichloroethylene (TCE) in an aerosol arts and crafts spray fixative product as part of EPA's ongoing efforts to reduce the public's exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. Source: US EPA, 7/30/15

Thursday, July 30, 2015
Doctor warns about lead poisoning risk from recycling older electronic equipment
The disposal and recycling of electronic devices has increased exposure to lead and other toxicants and created "an emerging health concern," according to a pediatrician who directs the Environmental Health and Lead Clinic at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. In a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Nick Newman reports on two children, ages 1 and 2, whose father worked at an e-scrap recycling company crushing cathode ray tubes (CRTs). CRTs, made from leaded glass, were commonly used in televisions and computer monitors but largely have been replaced by newer technologies. The children had blood lead levels of 18 micrograms per deciliter and 14 micrograms per deciliter. Although no safe blood lead level in children has been identified, a reference level of 5 micrograms per deciliter is now used to identify children for whom parents, doctors and public health officials should take action to reduce exposure to lead. The father left his job soon after the elevated blood lead levels were detected, the levels subsequently decreased to 8.7 and 7.9 parts per deciliter over the next three months. Source: Medical Press, 7/28/15

Yes, recycling is still good business -- if this happens
Municipalities and recycling companies should redefine recycling contracts to value each commodity type individually in order to share in the true costs and benefits of the recycling market. Source: GreenBiz, 7/30/15

ERI, iFixit work together to recover, sell parts
With commodity prices continuing to slump, Electronic Recyclers International has teamed up with iFixit to move further into reselling working parts and pieces of devices instead of shredding them. Source: Resource Recycling, 7/30/15

This smartphone game exposes the human cost of recycling e-waste
Burn the Boards, which has just come out on iOS to complement an earlier Android release, is a game about what happens after you ditch your phone. The technical term for this sort of thing is e-waste. Various components in abandoned electronic goods can be salvaged, reused, or recycled. Harvesting these parts, however, often results in exposure to a variety of foul substances, which is to say nothing of large-scale pollution that is caused by the clumsy and negligent recycling of e-waste. As such, e-waste is less of a technical problem than it is a human one: The handling of these items exposes informal workers to considerable risks. Burn the Boards focuses on these human costs. Source: Kill Screen, 7/28/15

Sources: EPA will ease deadlines on pollution rule to help states comply
The Obama administration has decided to give states more time to comply with proposed regulations that will require dramatic cuts in greenhouse-gas pollution from power plants, people familiar with the plans said Tuesday. Source: Washington Post, 7/28/15

Chicago: City Council approves compost ordinance
Chicago's City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance to track and legalize donations of uncooked food scraps to urban farms and community gardens that make fertilizer. Urban farms and community gardens accepting food scraps will now have to register with the city and maintain records of the scraps donated. The fertilizer, or compost, only is allowed in the site where it is created and cannot be sold unless the farm or garden gets a special permit from the city. Source: Chicago Tribune, 7/30/15

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