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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

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

Thursday, January 7, 2016
Toxins found in fracking fluids and wastewater, study shows
In an analysis of more than 1,000 chemicals in fluids used in and created by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), Yale School of Public Health researchers found that many of the substances have been linked to reproductive and developmental health problems, and the majority had undetermined toxicity due to insufficient information. Source: Yale University, 1/6/16

Above and beyond: Industrial wastewater technical assistance
MPCA recognizes the MnTAP Internship Program for helping industry better manage wastewater. Source: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 1/5/16

The Conflict-Free Effect: Better for Society, Better for Business
At the Consumer Electronics Show, the CEO of Intel announced that the company is moving beyond microprocessors to validate its broader product base as conflict-free in 2016. Carolyn Duran, supply chain director and conflict minerals program manager for Intel, explains. Source: Triple Pundit, 1/7/16

Wednesday, January 6, 2016
EPA waste management rules concern retailers
Retail groups are concerned about new waste management regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency that could affect how stores dispose of unsold products and pharmaceuticals. Source: The Hill, 1/5/16

Unnatural Balance: How Food Waste Impacts World's Wildlife
New research indicates that the food discarded in landfills and at sea is having a profound effect on wildlife populations and fisheries. But removing that food waste creates its own ecological challenges. Source: Yale Environment360, 1/6/16

Biomimicry Tools for Designers
"Biomimicry is about learning from nature to inspire design solutions for human problems," said Gretchen Hooker with the Biomimicry Institute at SXSW Eco in Austin, Texas. To enable the spread of these exciting solutions, Hooker, along with Cas Smith, Terrapin Bright Green, and Marjan Eggermont, Zygote Quarterly (ZQ), gave a tour of some of the best resources available for designers and engineers of all stripes. Source: Huffington Post, 12/10/15

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