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Environmental News


Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Thursday, July 28, 2016
Researchers Study Whether Renewable Is Always Better
Making plastics from plants is a growing trend. It's renewable, but is it better? A recent study by Carnegie Mellon University researchers examines the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of three plant-based plastics at each stage of production compared with that of their common fossil fuel-based counterparts. Source: Carnegie Mellon University, 7/19/16

How Milwaukee is brewing energy efficiency, financial innovation
Brew City is removing financial barriers, embracing partnerships and touting a 'new triple-bottom-line' ethos. Source: GreenBiz, 7/25/16

Wine without waste: De Bortoli aims to be Australia's first zero-waste winery
Solar energy, no sodium and organic fertilizer: how one of Australia's biggest wineries is reducing waste while saving money and energy Source: The Guardian, 7/25/16

New P2 Impact column: Why water is more expensive than most companies think
In the latest GreenBiz P2 Impact column, Monique Dubos of MnTAP provides some tips for how manufacturers can save water. Read all of the P2 Impact columns here. Source: GreenBiz, 7/13/16

Grinding Chemicals Together in an Effort to be Greener
James Mack of the University of Cincinnati researches mechanochemistry technology to reduce the amount of harmful, flammable and volatile solvents often used in chemistry. Source: New York Times, 7/18/16

Thursday, July 21, 2016
California hikes consumer fees on new electronics
California will boost the sums consumers pay when they buy new display devices, ensuring the solvency of a state fund backing e-scrap recycling. Scott Smithline, director of the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), on July 20 approved increasing the fees. The fees are currently $3 for devices with screens less than 15 inches in diameter, $4 for devices with screens between 15 inches and 35 inches, and $5 for screens larger than 35 inches. The increased advanced recovery fees (ARFs) use the same tiered structure as the old ones but bump the numbers up to $5, $6 and $7. California is the only state to use ARFs to fund its e-scrap recycling program. ARFs in the state currently apply to purchases of LCD displays, laptops with LCD screens, plasma TVs and personal DVD players. Consumers bought nearly 15.8 million electronics with ARFs during the 2015-16 fiscal year. Source: Resource Recycling, 7/21/16

Rising metals values pull minerals producer into e-scrap refining
A Nevada mining and refining company announced it will start accepting e-scrap -- specifically, ground up circuit boards from computers. Itronics Inc. plans to make silver bullion from its own internal silver concentrates and the silver found in recovered circuit boards. The company will also extract gold, palladium, copper and aluminum from e-scrap for other uses. Itronics noted it is getting the circuit boards from a Reno-based computer repair and sales company. It is also close to inking a similar deal with New2U Computers, a nonprofit group that repairs and resells old computers. Source: Resource Recycling, 7/21/16

Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Kane County [IL] trying to relaunch electronics recycling
Kane County is working to revamp and reactivate its electronics recycling program, which was suspended months ago after the county received an unmanageable volume of materials. By creating a new system for daily collection sites and resuming special recycling events, the county hopes to again provide residents with opportunities to safely dispose of their TVs, computers and electronics, said recycling coordinator Jennifer Jarland. Source: The Daily Herald, 7/18/16

Wednesday, July 13, 2016
The Grand Calumet River -- Fighting its Way Back to Life
A combination of efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Indiana Department of Environmental Management had contributed some $52 million--including funding through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Natural Resources Damage Assessment process--to revive the area in and around Roxana Marsh. Source: U.S. EPA, 7/5/16

Tuesday, July 12, 2016
The art of changing the climate debate
Scientific knowledge is vital but on its own will never change our environmental behavior. The key to that is to incorporate skills from the other side of the traditional science-humanities divide, say Trinity College academics. Source: Irish Times, 7/11/16

Why the next frontier for green building is manufacturing
Conjure an image of a factory and smokestacks come to mind. "Green" building isn't in the picture. But in fact, factories around the world are going green at a remarkable pace. Today, there are 500 million square feet of green factory space, including pace-setting construction, here in Chicago.

Why? Green manufacturing saves big money in the long run. Manufacturers do well by doing good. Source: Crain's Chicago Business, 7/12/16


National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants: Ferroalloys Production
On June 30, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the residual risk and technology review (RTR) final rule, establishing national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants (NESHAP) for the Ferroalloys Production source category. Subsequently, the EPA received two petitions for reconsideration of certain aspects of the final rule. The EPA is announcing reconsideration of and requesting public comment on three issues raised in the petitions for reconsideration, as detailed in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this action.

The three issues the EPA is reconsidering and seeking public comment on are the following: the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) compliance testing frequency for furnaces that produce ferromanganese (FeMn); the use of the digital camera opacity technique (DCOT) for determining compliance with the shop building opacity standards; and the use of bag leak detection systems (BLDS) on positive pressure baghouses. The EPA is seeking comment only on these three issues and will not respond to comments addressing other issues or other provisions of the final rule. The EPA is not proposing any changes to the NESHAP in this document. Source: Federal Register, 7/12/16


Is Burning Trees Still Green? Some Experts Now Question Biomass
Although biomass produced more than twice as much electrical energy last year than solar panels, it still makes up less than two percent of electricity generation overall. Most electricity generated comes from fossil fuels. And now, some scientists and environmentalists are challenging the "renewability" of biomass. Source: NPR, 7/12/16

Study: Role of chief sustainability officers projected to shrink
A study by the consulting firm Verdantix predicts spending on consulting services by sustainability officers will drop 2.4% from $417 million this year to $369 million in 2021. Source: WasteDive, 7/6/16

Newly introduced federal bill would limit e-waste exports
Representatives Paul Cook (CA) and Gene Green (TX) have introduced the Secure E-Waste Export and Recycling Act (SEERA) in an effort to reduce the export of used electronics. Source: WasteDive, 7/1/16

Mother Earth's Secret Weapon: Girl Scouts
According to a study in the journal Nature Energy, a program in which Girl Scouts were taught how to save energy at home had lasting results, changing the behavior of both the young ladies and their parents. What's more, many of these new habits remained seven to eight months following the training. Source: Pacific Standard, 7/11/16

The Difference Between Zero Waste to Landfill and Zero Waste
The zero waste journey involves a constant evaluation about materials choices and a strong commitment to eliminating waste, not just treating it. Source: Waste360, 7/12/16

Mattel Plans to Cut Utility Bills 40% Using Recycled Water
Mattel recently became a California water agency's newest recycled water customer, which will save about 2 million gallons of drinking water per year in the drought-stricken state. Source: Environmental Leader, 7/11/16

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