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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Friday, September 4, 2015
Texas teenager creates $20 water purifier to tackle toxic e-waste pollution
Consumer electronics, including computers and mobiles, are leaving a legacy of toxic waste in countries including China and India. Recycling factories across Asia are recovering e-waste exported from around the world, but discharging heavy metals and chemicals into local water supplies in the process. How to safeguard drinking water for local residents is an ongoing battle, with existing solutions such as chlorination, distillation, boiling and high-tech filtration prohibitively expensive and often reliant on fossil fuels. Now a new filtering device, invented by a US teenager, could provide a cheap and easy way to purify water. The renewable heavy metal filter, designed by 18-year-old Perry Alagappan, removes 99% of heavy metals from water that passes through it. The filter, built from graphene nanotubes, can be rinsed with a vinegar concentrate and reused. The highly concentrated waste can then be evaporated, leaving a deposit of pure metal that can be used in many different applications. Source: The Guardian, 8/27/15

Tuesday, September 1, 2015
What's in all that e-cig vapor?
While many users perceive e-cigs as safer than traditional cigarettes, some of the flavorings that make them so enticing may have their own toxic consequences. Source: Washington Post, 8/31/15

Want your energy efficiency program to succeed? Aim it at poor people
A researcher looked at data from California's 20/20 program and discovered that poor people are most likely to take advantage of economic incentives to reduce energy use. Source: Grist, 9/1/15

Craft Breweries Support Sustainability
Despite the lure of the corporate dollar, thousands of craft breweries around the nation hold out and continue independently contributing to sustainable local economies. Source: Triple Pundit, 8/28/15

General Mills brings supply chain into emissions goal
Taking bolder responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions by its supply chain of farmers and mills and packagers than is typical, General Mills announced a goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions across its entire business -- "from farm to fork to landfill" -- by 28 percent within 10 years. Source: GreenBiz, 9/1/15

EPA Proposes Rules to Improve Hazardous Waste Management and Better Protect our Waterways
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing two new hazardous waste rules to strengthen environmental protection while reducing regulatory burden on businesses. One of the proposed rules will protect waterways, including drinking and surface water, by preventing the flushing of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals and simplify the requirements for healthcare workers. The other rule will provide greater flexibility to industry while requiring new safeguards to protect the public from mismanagement of hazardous waste. Source: U.S. EPA, 8/31/15

Thursday, August 27, 2015
Why Your Sustainability Strategy Can Be Pivotal to Employee Engagement
The business case for implementing sustainable practices is clear, and regardless of what industry you're in, the strain on natural resources is rising as a result of population growth and climate change. Today, many companies are shifting to a sustainable business model to protect the ecosystem, realize associated cost-savings and support future business growth because a healthier, more vibrant society makes for a healthy economy. To achieve this vision, a business cannot only adopt purpose into its operations, opportunities, solutions and profit, but the notion of purpose must be embedded within its culture. Source: Triple Pundit, 8/17/15

Apple, Microsoft, Motorola wring new revenue out of e-waste
What do Apple, Microsoft and Motorola have in common? All of these high-profile technology companies are harvesting new revenue out of discarded and end-of-life gadgets, rather than looking at them just as liabilities that require responsible recycling. What's more, all three are among the roughly 100 organizations using Hong Kong's Li Tong Group (aka LTG) to get the job done. LTG, a specialist in reverse logistics, operates a network of 21 facilities in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America. You can think of it as a contract "un-manufacturer" -- an organization authorized to take apart smartphones, computer networking equipment and other electronics devices. LTG handles items that are traded in, returned or unsold. Source: GreenBiz, 8/27/15

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
How the circular economy is taking off in the US
Laptops made of plastic from old laptops. Aluminium car body parts made from old cars. Chemicals leased out, recovered, and leased again. These are just a few examples of how the circular economy, once seen as a Scandinavian speciality, is starting to spin in the United States. Source: The Guardian, 8/26/15

The circular economy's missing ingredient: Local
The latest P2 Impact column has been published over at GreenBiz. John Mulrow, Interim Director at Plant Chicago, writes about an often-overlooked aspect of the material reuse craze. Source:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015
U. of I. to lead center for power optimization in mobile electronics
Heat is the enemy for people designing cars, construction machinery, aircraft and mobile electronics. When electrical systems do more work, they get hotter. When they get too hot, they operate inefficiently, fail or even melt. A new, $18.5 million Engineering Research Center led by the U. of I. is out to pack more power into less space for electrical systems. The center is funded by the National Science Foundation. Source: University of Illinois News Bureau, Inside Illinois, 8/20/15

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