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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Monday, August 29, 2016
Rethink how chemical hazards are tested
John C. Warner and Jennifer K. Ludwig propose three approaches that would help inventors to produce safer chemicals and products. Source: Nature, 8/16/16

Mold Might Be The Future Of Recycling For Rechargeable Batteries
Tossing a worn-out smartphone battery in the trash also means chucking the ever-more-valuable materials inside-- namely, lithium and cobalt. As the world works to deal with this growing stream of e-waste, one team is evaluating the potential of a natural battery recycling method-- fungi, or more specifically, mold. Source: Forbes, 8/21/16

Forget Going for the Gold; We're Going for Green! How U.S. E.P.A. Programs Accelerate Innovation in the Chemical Enterprise
David Widawsky, Director of the Chemistry, Economics, and Sustainable Strategies Division at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)discusses regulation, innovation, the future of green chemistry, and much more. Source: American Chemical Society, 8/26/16

Friday, August 26, 2016
Here's what a global treaty on plastics should look like
Plastic pollution harms more than just the ocean, and it's time we did something about it. Source: GreenBiz, 8/26/16

Why Environmental Managers, Investors Love Circular Economy Technologies
Circular economy technologies and initiatives have seen growing interest from environmental managers and sustainability officers of late. A new report suggests these innovations, which reduce waste or convert waste to valuable new products, can also add investors to their list of fans. Source: Environmental Leader, 8/24/16

New method developed for producing some metals
The MIT researchers were trying to develop a new battery, but it didn't work out that way. Instead, thanks to an unexpected finding in their lab tests, what they discovered was a whole new way of producing the metal antimony -- and potentially a new way of smelting other metals, as well.

The discovery could lead to metal-production systems that are much less expensive and that virtually eliminate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with most traditional metal smelting. Although antimony itself is not a widely used metal, the same principles may also be applied to producing much more abundant and economically important metals such as copper and nickel, the researchers say. Source: MIT, 8/24/16

EPA Establishes Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals and Seeks Experts to Serve
As directed by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the Agency is establishing the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC). The purpose of the SACC is to provide independent advice and expert consultation on the scientific and technical aspects of risk assessments, methodologies, and pollution prevention measures or approaches. Members of the SACC will have expertise in scientific and technical fields relevant to chemical risk assessment and pollution prevention. Members will also have diverse background and experiences, including professional experiences in government, labor, public health, public interest, animal protection, industry, and other groups. EPA is seeking public comments and nominations. Source: U.S. EPA, 8/26/16

Thursday, August 25, 2016
Protect Workers From Harmful Chemicals, Advocates Urge EPA
The Environmental Protection Agency should use the new authorities under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act to protect workers and other at-risk groups, advocates say. Source: Bloomberg News, 8/24/16

Old iPhones Could Go For The Gold At The 2020 Tokyo Olympics
The medals in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be maybe just a little more hard-earned than usual: The Japanese organizers are hoping to source the medals from e-waste, stripping gold, silver, and bronze from old gadgets and cellphones. Source: Fast Company, 8/24/16

Study: Biofuels increase, rather than decrease, heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions
A new study from University of Michigan researchers challenges the widely held assumption that biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel are inherently carbon neutral. Source: University of Michigan, 8/25/16

Edible food packaging made from milk proteins
At the grocery store, most foods--meats, breads, cheeses, snacks--come wrapped in plastic packaging. Not only does this create a lot of non-recyclable, non-biodegradable waste, but thin plastic films are not great at preventing spoilage. And some plastics are suspected of leaching potentially harmful compounds into food. To address these issues, scientists are now developing a packaging film made of milk proteins--and it is even edible. Source: American Chemical Society, 8/21/16

'Sporks in space': Bothell firm brings recycling to final frontier
Can recycling be successfully launched in outer space? Tethers Unlimited, Inc., a Bothell-based aerospace technology company, plans to find out when its recycling/3D printing system is tested aboard the International Space Station. The company has been awarded a NASA contract to develop and deliver a Positrusion Recycler to sterilize and recycle plastic waste such as packaging materials, utensils, trays and food storage containers into high-quality 3D filament. Dirty plastic dinnerware will ultimately be turned into satellite components, replacement parts, and astronaut tools via a high-quality 3D printer, creating the first "closed-cycle" in-space manufacturing system. Source: The Herald Business Journal, 8/24/16

Wednesday, August 24, 2016
A surprising simple solution to bad indoor air quality: potted plants
Research being presented this week to the American Chemical Society suggests houseplants might offer a way to clear pollutants from indoor air. Source: Washington Post, 8/24/16

Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Study helps map path to waste reduction in national parks
National parks welcome more than 300 million visitors each year, but less than half of those people actually separate their recyclables from their trash before leaving. That is one of the findings in the Subaru National Park Survey, conducted in partnership with National Parks Conservation Association. The research ties into this year's celebration of the centennial of the National Park Service (NPS). Source: Resource Recycling, 8/23/16

IL: New Law Encourages Schools to Donate Food
For the past year SCARCE Director Kay McKeen worked with Jennifer Walling of the Illinois Environmental Council to get a state-level bill written and signed into law that would prohibit any language in school food-service contracts that prevented donation of leftover food items. The Food Donation for Schools and Public Agencies bill was signed by Gov. Rauner on July 15, 2016 and took effect immediately. Source: SCARCE, 8/22/16

The water-energy nexus is not what you expect
While saving water does save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there are other benefits, too. Source: GreenBiz, 8/23/16

Why manufacturing will make or break the future of energy
Forget your MakerBot. The Department of Energy has a plan for a new production paradigm. Source: GreenBiz, 8/23/16

Lead pollution forcing 1,000 Indiana residents from homes
More than 1,000 residents of a northwest Indiana public housing complex have been in a state of panic and uncertainty since authorities informed them last month that their homes must be destroyed because of serious lead contamination. Source: Indianapolis Star, 8/22/16

Samsung to Sell High-end Refurbished Cell Phones
Wouldn't it be great to own a Galaxy S or Galaxy Note 7 with a much lower price tag and environmental impact? According to Reuters, Samsung is planning to launch a program that will refurbish premium smartphones, offering refurbished versions for a lower cost. Source: Triple Pundit, 8/23/16

Tokyo's Olympic medals might be made from discarded smartphones
Organizers of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo aim to produce gold, silver, and bronze medals from the metals found in discarded smartphones and other electronics, according to a report from the Nikkei Asian Review. As the business journal reports, Olympic organizers, government officials, and executives first discussed the plan during a June meeting organized by a Japanese NGO. The hope is that such a scheme would help raise awareness around so-called "e-waste," though Japan would need to implement a more comprehensive system for collecting discarded electronics. Source: The Verge, 8/22/16

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