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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Thursday, March 27, 2014
The Many Faces of Biopolymers
What exactly is a "Biopolymer"? Is your definition of this term the same as that of your colleague down the hall? "Biopolymer" is a relatively new term currently used to describe everything from biodegradable plastic bottles, to bags made out of corn, to biocompatible parts used in knee replacement surgeries, to proteins. Source: ACS Nexus blog, 3/24/14

Potentially safer, greener alternative to BPA could come from papermaking waste
A waste product from making paper could yield a safer, greener alternative to the potentially harmful chemical BPA, now banned from baby bottles but still used in many plastics. Scientists made the BPA alternative from lignin, the compound that gives wood its strength, and they say it could be ready for the market within five years. Source: ACS Nexus blog, 3/24/14

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

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