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Environmental News


Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Thursday, October 2, 2014
MSP Airport Building State's Largest Solar Energy Site
A $25.4 million solar energy project now underway at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is being touted as the state's largest and is expected to create more than 250 jobs. Source: Twin Cities Business, 10/2/14

Seattle Assesses Fine to Homeowners for Wasting Food
The city of Seattle has embraced the composting idea with a creative edge: In an effort to encourage residents to stop wasting food, the city council passed an ordinance this last Monday that allows households to be fined $1 each time that garbage collectors find more than 10 percent of organic waste in their garbage bins. Source: Triple Pundit, 9/25/14

Top 10 Sustainable U.S. Breweries
To help you choose a sustainable sip for tonight's happy hour, this week we're rounding up 10 of the most sustainable breweries in the U.S. So, grab a cold one, and rest easy knowing it had little to no impact on our planet. The Great Lakes states are well represented on the list. Source: Triple Pundit, 9/26/14

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
What's a materiality assessment -- and should you be doing one?
Sustainability reports are being held to higher standards than before: They're being asked to relate sustainability to continued business. Are you in? Source: GreenBiz, 10/1/14

Climate Week is over. What do we do now?
These five lessons from the social sciences can change minds among your employees, stakeholders, friends, and family members. Source: GreenBiz, 10/1/14

Energy efficient air conditioning is within sight
Demand for air conditioning will only increase; new materials offer hope of a breakthrough that could cut energy consumption by 90%. Source: The Guardian, 10/1/14

EPA Recognizes Manufacturing, Retail Leaders in Electronics Recycling Challenge
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently recognized leading electronics manufacturers and retailers for their outstanding achievements in used electronics stewardship under the Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge. Leaders from Best Buy, Dell, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, Sprint and Staples gathered in Washington, D.C. to celebrate their environmental achievements, which include diverting more than 220,000 metric tons of used electronics to third party certified recyclers in 2013 -- an increase of 7.6 percent since 2012.The amount of greenhouse gas emissions saved from this increase is equivalent to removing more than 8,500 passenger cars from the road for one year. Source: US EPA, 9/23/14

NY: Schumer proposes law to ban toxic flame retardants
University at Albany research showing the health risks to firefighters of inhaling smoke infused with flame-retardant chemicals is leading a push for national legislation to ban some of the chemicals, which are ubiquitous in upholstered furniture, toys, and children's bedding and pajamas. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer was at the Engine 10/Ladder 3 Firehouse on Brevator Street Monday with Susan Shaw of the UAlbany School of Public Health, firefighters and consumer advocates to announce legislation to ban the 10 most noxious flame retardants. The measure would also require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to review others for their safety. Source: The Times Union, 9/24/14

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
EPA seeks input on key e-scrap issues
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency convened a meeting of some 50 key electronics recycling parties last week near Washington, D.C. to receive advice and input. The meeting -- the first "EPA Summit on Electronics" since 2005 -- included representatives of original equipment manufacturers, states, nonprofit organizations, e-scrap reclaimers and trade groups. The two-day session focused on two concerns. EPA sought input on CRT recycling management, including a review of how obsolete CRTs are being handled and how current and future problems can be addressed. Included at the meeting were executives from major CRT processors, including Closed Loop Refining and Recovery, Kuusakoski, Nulife Glass and Universal Recycling Technologies. The second focus of the meeting was sustainable electronics. Much of the discussion targeted two issues: design of electronics for reuse, repair and recycling, and better ways to determine what makes a firm a "good recycler." Source: Resource Recycling, 9/30/14

Detroit Zoo so 'green' animals will soon contribute manure for electricity
The Detroit Zoo is so aggressively green that even the rhinoceroses, giraffes and other animals are about to get in on the act. The zoo by next year plans to have a bio-digester in place that will use methane gas from the animals' manure to create electricity for the zoo's animal hospital, said Gerry Van Acker, chief operating officer at the zoo. Source: Daily Tribune, 9/25/14

Here's hope for the bees: A manifesto
The Honey Bee Health Coalition came together from all sectors to accelerate solutions to improve bee health. And they need you. Source: GreenBiz, 9/29/14

A new era of innovation for a resource-depleted world
Here's how a waterless shampoo invented 20 years ago points the way to the future. It's just one innovation for a resource-depleted world. Source: GreenBiz, 9/26/14

A glimpse into our 2030 waste-free world
Carbon emissions are no curse. If enforced bans on cigarette smoking has taught us anything, it's that individual and collective efforts can change our world for the better. Source: GreenBiz, 9/29/14

Monday, September 29, 2014
Dell Reinforces E-Waste Work In Africa, Asia and Latin America
Dell is stepping up its stewardship of electronic-waste (e-waste) management in Africa, Asia and Latin America through an alliance with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. Under terms of the five-year pact, the two organizations will work together to create facilities for dismantling computers, televisions and other electronics equipment in a way that's safe for humans and the environment. The agreement builds on a program that the high-tech company created last year in Nairobi, Kenya, to create a regional e-waste recycling facility--one that could help communities there control contamination from materials such as lead, cadmium, beryllium and brominated flame retardants, and create some local jobs in the process. Source: Forbes, 9/26/14

Friday, September 26, 2014
Best Buy pledges to double e-scrap collection
Best Buy recently reached a major e-scrap recycling milestone, and the company's sustainability chief says the retailer intends to significantly grow collection totals moving forward. Best Buy announced it has taken in 1 billion pounds of end-of-life electronics and large appliances in the past six years. For a bit of perspective, that total is roughly equivalent to the amount the entire state of California collected through the first six years of its consumer-funded e-scrap program. What's more, Best Buy thinks it can collect 2 billion pounds of e-scrap and appliances in the next six years, through continuing to offer free recycling services at 1,400 stores throughout the U.S. "We're selling the products and we need to be part of the solution as well," Scott Weislow, senior director of environmental services at Best Buy, told E-Scrap News. "We are ready, we are committed to it. ... I don't foresee any reason why we would have any hiccups getting to that next 2 billion pound mark." Though traditionally thought of as a retailer, Best Buy is also one of the nation's largest original equipment manufacturers because it owns and sells the Insignia electronics brand. Source: Resource Recycling, 9/26/14

EPA indicates landfill cover is not CRT recycling
U.S. EPA has clarified its regulatory stance on whether leaded glass destined for tile manufacturing or landfill cover should be considered recycling. In separate letters dated Sept. 10 and uploaded onto the agency's website, Barnes Johnson, the director of the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, addresses the use of CRT glass as alternative daily cover (ADC) and as a flux and lead oxide in making ceramic tiles. According to those letters, the ADC option is considered legitimate disposal while the tile option is legitimate recycling. "Hazardous waste, such as CRT glass, that has been treated & and that no longer exhibits hazardous characteristics may be disposed in a landfill," Johnson writes in the ADC letter. On the tile front, the agency states, "Based on the provided information, the EPA finds the legitimate recycling factors set forth in EPA policy & appear to have been met." The letters are addressed to two of the biggest names in the end-of-life electronics game: The ADC letter was sent to Sony, and the tile letter was sent to Sims Recycling Solutions, the electronics recycling wing of publicly traded Sims Metal Management. Sony had asked the agency for clarification on the ADC front, while SRS had requested clarification on the tile option. It's significant that the tile process received an OK to be deemed recycling while landfill cover is only considered "disposal." Source: Resource Recycling, 9/26/14

Smart Homes Make For Angry Roommates
If you've ever come home to a roommate's dread passive-aggressive note tacked to the refrigerator door, you might not want to move into a smart home. Researchers have discovered that the smarter your home, the angrier roommates get at one another for wasting utilities. Source: Fast Company, 9/26/14

Illinois professors and students study community resilience around polluted waterways
There's no such thing as a good place to have a natural disaster, nor has there ever been an appropriate site to release toxic pollutants. But scientists have long recognized that some areas can handle such catastrophes better than others. As early as the 1970s, they used socioeconomic data from the U.S. Census to develop a tool called the Social Vulnerability Index, known as SoVI, to gauge the likely resilience of different communities. Now a team of professors and graduate students at the University of Illinois is testing and tweaking the SoVI model by studying at a more granular level the communities around two polluted Midwest waterways. Bethany Cutts, a professor of natural resources and environmental sciences, and Andrew Greenlee, a professor of urban and regional planning, received a two-year Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant to study communities around the Lincoln Park-Milwaukee Estuary and portions of the Grand Calumet River south of Chicago, both designated "areas of concern" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Source: Inside Illinois, 9/2/14

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