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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Digging Up The Roots Of Modern Waste In Victorian-Era Rubbish
Tom Licence has a Ph.D., and he's a garbage man.

When you think of archaeology, you might think of Roman ruins, ancient Egypt or Indiana Jones. But Licence works in the field of "garbology." While some may dig deep down to get to the good stuff -- ancient tombs, residences, bones -- Licence looks at the top layers, which, where he lives in England, are filled with Victorian-era garbage.

Studying what people threw away 150 years ago, Licence is getting to the bottom of an important issue: how much we throw away, and how to change that. Source: NPR, 6/1/16


Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Providers, environmental groups launch green purchasing co-op
Four major health systems have partnered with two environmental organizations to launch a purchasing cooperative focused on green products that could compete with traditional group purchasing organizations. Source: Modern Healthcare, 5/17/16

The Shockingly Short Payback of Energy Modeling
Energy modeling is often used to evaluate energy conservation measure (ECM) payback, calculating the operational energy savings that accrue after an initial capital investment. Energy modeling itself can also be viewed as an ECM, with an upfront cost during design that leads to operational savings. Given that viewpoint, it is interesting to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of modeling. As a rule of thumb, an ECM is considered cost-effective or attractive if its payback is shorter than three years. What is the typical payback of modeling? Source: U.S. DOE, 5/23/16

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Closing the gap between seeing and doing for corporate supply chains
Recognizing your company has a problem with supply chain sourcing or human rights isn't the same as fixing the problem on the ground. Source: GreenBiz, 5/24/16

Garbage entrepreneurs are turning food waste into a business
Part-time waitress, full-time garbage entrepreneur -- Melissa Tashjian has carved out a niche helping turn smelly food scraps into a dark, rich medium to grow more fruits and vegetables. Source: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 5/23/16

Know It All: Solving the Fresh Water Crisis at Home
Measures to conserve water are being adopted everywhere, and in endless variety, from low-flow toilets to credit markets for water savings. Some of the most innovative? -- ?but least heralded? -- ?work is being done by water utilities themselves. This article highlights five case studies that together illustrate some broad global trends in confronting the crisis. Source: Pacific Standard, 5/24/16

Friday, May 20, 2016
'I just can't be bothered': why people are greener at home than in the office
Must of us ignore our environmental responsibilities at work, largely because of a lack of control, responsibility or financial interest. Source: The Guardian, 5/20/16

The Road from Paris Leads to Science-based Targets
The Paris agreement is a clear signal of international will to tackle climate change and governments around the world are under pressure to ramp up efforts to cut carbon emissions. Trucost analysis shows that achieving the 2°C target means that the retail sector would have to reduce its carbon emissions by an average of 76% by 2050, while the telecommunications sector would have to achieve an 89% cut by the same year.

To manage their exposure, companies need to set science-based targets that reflect the specific carbon reduction plans for countries in which they operate. This will involve reviewing existing carbon targets -- especially targets based on existing available technology -- to see if they are still fit for purpose. The Science Based Targets Initiative also requires that most companies quantify their Scope 3 value chain emissions, and where appropriate consider those in the target setting. While this may sound daunting, there are time saving modelling tools and techniques that are sufficiently robust for external disclosure and target setting. Source: Environmental Leader, 5/20/16


Thursday, May 19, 2016
Recycling nylon is good for the planet -- so why don't more companies do it?
US brands are increasingly turning to recycled nylon to make everything from outerwear to skateboards. Source: The Guardian, 5/18/16

Why even the people who worry the most about climate change often take little action
A new study, published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that even members of the public who are "alarmed" about a warming planet show relatively low levels of public-sphere action, such as volunteering or protesting. The paper then sought to get to the bottom of why that is, investigating "what drives public actions of the certain segment of the population that's already really concerned about climate change," said Kathryn Doherty, a research associate at the Social and Environmental Research Institute (SERI) in Massachusetts and lead author of the paper. Source: Washington Post, 5/19/16

The Coolest Things Ikea, Coca-Cola, and Walmart Are Doing to Cut Waste
Take, make, and dispose--for years that has been the developed world's economic model. This consumption cycle led the World Bank to estimate that the globe was on track to produce 6 million metric tons of solid waste per day by 2025, up from 3.5 million metric tons in 2010.

But there are signs the take-make-dispose paradigm is shifting, and some of the world's largest companies are helping to drive change through their scale. Source: Fortune, 5/16/16


After Paris, A Move to Rein In Emissions by Ships and Planes
As the world moves to slash CO2 emissions, the shipping and aviation sectors have managed to remain on the sidelines. But the pressure is now on these two major polluting industries to start controlling their emissions at last. Source: Yale e360, 5/19/16

Chemical footprinting has arrived at Levi's, Seagate
Two dozen companies from across sectors respond to an inaugural survey on taking stock of chemicals in products and supply chains. Source: GreenBiz. 5/19/16

Why the Paris Agreement won't succeed without agricultural innovations
If the world is to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector will need to be addressed -- and in a whole new way. Source: Christian Science Monitor, 5/17/16

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