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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Water desalination is here. But is it sustainable?
In this opinion piece, Karin Klein discusses the positive and negatives of using desalination technology to alleviate the effects of long-term drought in California. Source: Los Angeles Times, 10/20/15

FTC says firm's biodegradable claims 'false'
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has ruled against an Ohio-based plastics film maker, calling ECM BioFilms Inc.'s claims that its product is biodegradable "false and unsubstantiated." Source: Plastics News, 10/23/15

MI: Hospitals rank among 'greenest' in US
Three West Michigan hospitals have been recognized nationally for their green practices. Source: Grand Rapids Business Journal, 10/21/15

Tech Helping Medical Devices Go Green
Even if we're loathe to admit that climate change is a thing, it makes sense for those who use the most energy to do what they can to keep their carbon footprint in check, which puts the medical industry right up near the top of the list. This article describes some ways that technology is helping the health care industry become greener. Source: Marketing:Green, 10/21/15

Health Care Facilities' Waste Management Practices Subject to Big Changes Under Proposed Rule
On September 25, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposed rule altering the regulatory regime governing the handling and disposal of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals generated at healthcare facilities and managed at pharmaceutical reverse distributors. The proposal is intended to simplify the regulatory burden of complying with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act's (RCRA) cradle-to-grave management of hazardous wastes at healthcare facilities by providing an industry-specific approach to hazardous waste regulations that takes into account the realities of waste management within the industry. Currently, facilities that generate, ship, store, or dispose of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals must comply with all of the requirement of RCRA Subtitle C. Source: National Law Journal, 10/15/15

Tech meets transparency: The rise of connected supply chains
Getting to the root cause of looming labor turmoil is just one area of activity in the growing supply chain technology industry, which is making a mark on production in sectors ranging from agriculture to electronics to apparel. Source: GreenBiz, 10/28/15

Could Carbon-Labeling Products Help the Environment?
Wouldn't it be great to have carbon footprint labels right on the products we buy? That way, we could use our dollars to tell big corporations that we actually care about climate change. Unfortunately, according to a new experiment, adding so-called "carbon reduction labels" may not have any impact on what we buy--unless the labels are designed just right. Source: Pacific Standard, 10/27/15

Illinois Companies, Organizations Honored for Achievements In Sustainability
Nineteen Illinois companies and organizations were honored October 27 for their demonstrated leadership in implementing sustainable principles and practices. The Governor's Sustainability Awards, the "Emmy Awards for Sustainability," were presented by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) during a ceremony in Chicago. ISTC is a unit of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Source: ISTC, 10/27/15

Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Proper Materials Storage Fundamental to E-Recycling
Proper storage of materials is a fundamental element of the electronics recycling R2 Standard that is addressed in Provision 9, according to SERI, which manages the R2 recycling standard. While the material storage requirements of R2:2013 are rooted in basic environmental, health and safety regulations in place in the US, the general principles and intent behind the regulations apply to all responsible recycling facilities, regardless of where they operate. Source: Environmental Leader, 10/26/15

Sustainability Leaders as Conveners
Without genuine executive sponsorship, sustainability is approached as a type of compliance checklist, each item debated until proven business-critical or until a business case shows high ROI. There are certainly easier wins linked to clear business cases, certain energy efficiency and water use projects as examples. However, high-impact initiatives in areas like product development and supply chain often feature business cases that don't have watertight proof of immediate ROI. As a result, these issues are disputed over months and even years, reinforcing the false narrative that sustainability is a "nice-to-have" but not core to business success. Source: Environmental Leader, 10/27/15

Friday, October 23, 2015
Charting a Roadmap for Green Chemistry Education: The Visioning Workshop
The word is out. Green chemistry has caught on, and the field has grown tremendously since it first emerged in the 1990s. The question now is where are we going with all this momentum? Source: ACS Green Chemistry Nexus, 10/22/15

Dell cuts e-waste with recycled carbon fiber
In 2013, as part of its 2020 Legacy of Good Plan, Dell established two objectives tied to cutting down on e-waste: using 50 million pounds of recycled materials and recovering 2 billion pounds of e-waste by 2020. The company has made notable progress toward these goals -- since 2013, it has incorporated into products more than 21 million pounds of recycled plastics from sources including water bottles and CD cases, and has recovered 1.2 billion pounds of e-waste. But the company wanted to secure its own waste stream to free it from the volatile global plastics market, which can fluctuate depending on the price of oil and other mounting competition for recycled plastics. That's why in 2014, Dell launched its closed-loop recycled plastics supply chain, which has since recycled more than 4 million pounds of plastics into new products. Certified by UL Environment as the first closed-loop supply chain, the program entails collecting, recycling and using e-waste to make new Dell products. Building on its closed-loop recycling operations, Dell earlier this month announced a partnership with supplier SABIC to recycle excess carbon fiber and scrap raw materials into new Dell products beginning in late 2015. Source: GreenBiz, 10/23/15

Thursday, October 22, 2015
Becoming a B Corp: only for the sustainable elite?
It can be tough for a business to get certified in social and environmental performance -- just ask organic winemaker Fetzer Vineyards. Source: The Guardian, 10/21/15

Competition in the Water Sector: Financing the Fourth Generation of Water Infrastructure
What if your building, home or office, was also a water company that could enable innovative decentralized water management approaches? Source: Financing Sustainable Water, 10/19/15

When are Recyclability and Zero Waste the Wrong Goals?
As honorable as our intentions might be, we're being asked to accept that our efforts in planning for recyclability, diversion and waste management can be misplaced goals, under certain circumstances. In fact, those very aspirations can create roadblocks for other more comprehensive sustainable solutions to arrest our insatiable consumption of resources. Source: Waste360, 10/22/15

A Self-Healing Polymer for a Sustainable Future
Since the dawn of civilization, natural materials have been a fundamental part of human life and environment. However, in the 20th century, due to exploitation and high cost of natural resources, synthetic materials replaced natural materials. Recent advances in biotechnology and materials science have allowed the invention of eco-friendly materials that can be produced easily from sustainable resources in a broad array of useful applications including textile, cosmetic, and medicine. Proteins are key to the creation of many new, high strength materials. Source: ACS Green Chemistry Nexus, 10/21/15

Sustainable Rubber is No Stretch
The list of companies joining the race towards sustainable rubber is growing. From startups to global chemical manufacturers, there's a widespread push to develop high quality rubber that isn't sourced from petroleum. Fluctuating oil prices, growing pressure to be sustainable, and virtually no domestic means of producing natural rubber are all fueling the search for a reliable, long-term solution. Source: ACS Green Chemistry Nexus, 10/21/15

Ford Looks to Lizards to Increase Recyclability, Improve Adhesives
Ford is looking to create adhesives inspired by the gecko. The automaker will also work with Procter & Gamble, sharing research findings as both companies look to biomimicry for a host of business solutions. Source: Environmental Leader, 10/21/15

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Chicago stadiums shift toward making concessions greener
Chicago stadiums and sports arenas are making greater efforts to make their food service more environmentally friendly. Source: Redeye, 10/20/15

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