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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Friday, November 14, 2014
IL: Future of Will County electronics recycling program in jeopardy, director warns
Will County's electronics recycling and collection program -- a free public drop-off service for residents -- could be in jeopardy. That was the message Wednesday from Dean Olson, who heads up Will County's Resource Recovery and Energy Division, during a county board Legislative and Policy Committee meeting. Olsen characterized the issue as "urgent," noting immediate action is needed during the state legislative veto session next week or during the lame-duck session in January. Olson said the rising cost of recycling -- coupled with low annual recycling goals set by state law for electronics manufacturers -- is to blame. Once manufacturers meet those weight goals, they no longer have to pay recycling contractors to process items, he said. Source: The Herald-News, 11/12/14

Building a sustainable future: why energy efficiency is everybody's business
Few dispute the need to make building stock more energy efficient. But is a lack of coherent central government thinking and bold grassroots leadership stalling progress? Source: The Guardian, 11/13/14

Ford to install wind and solar energy at dealerships
Auto giant Ford announced innovative new plans this week that could see its dealers across the country become renewable energy hubs. Source: GreenBiz, 11/14/14

3 ways sustainability managers can expand their influence
The job prospects in this field have never been better. Here's an action plan to make an impact in your company at every level. Source: GreenBiz, 11/14/14

Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Listen: Farmers, environmentalists at odds over proposed EPA water rule
In middle of the 20th century, America's rivers were in rough shape. Decades of urban growth and industrial pollution had turned many of them into dumping grounds for everything from hazardous chemicals to human waste. A burgeoning environmental movement and high profile events like the 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga River finally pushed Congress to take action. In 1972, it passed the Clean Water Act, giving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate water pollution. But which waterways the agency can regulate has been a source of conflict and confusion. In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule it says clarifies its jurisdiction. Environmentalists say it will close loopholes that allow pollution into streams and wetlands go unchecked. But farm bureaus in many states including Michigan are saying the rule goes too far and could hurt the agricultural industry. Current State talks with Laura Campbell, Manager of Agricultural Ecology at the Michigan Farm Bureau, and John Rumpler, Senior Attorney for Environment America. Source: Great Lakes Echo, 11/12/14

MIT Sloan Management Review launches Sustainability Insurgency Series
Successful sustainability executives are leading a "sustainability insurgency" motivated by shared organizational and societal values. The goal? To alter the way business is done in every function everywhere in the company. In a series of four installments, sustainable business strategy expert Gregory Unruh shows how CSR directors are rebelling against outward-facing programs that "talk the talk" of sustainability, and engaging corporate culture at a deeper level. By empowering allies and helping them link social intelligence with their job responsibilities and the company's overall sustainability strategy, today's managers are inciting a sustainability revolution from within. Source: MIT Sloan Management Review, 11/12/14

The Chilling Effect
Emily Byrd reports on the hurdles faced by the University of North Carolina GreenLabs program as they tried to convince researchers to participate in the National Freezer Challenge, a contest that aims to change how scientists use their ultra-low temperature freezers. Source:, 11/12/14

29 qualities for business leaders to create a sustainable society
To mark the launch of a new leadership hub, a manifesto for executives to embrace new ways of leading their corporations at a time of unprecedented challenges. Source: The Guardian, 11/12/14

Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Food manufacturers not off the hook: Big potential for reducing carbon footprint
Companies are increasingly interested in where and how they can reduce the environmental impact of their supply chains. The focus frequently lands on agriculture, which is a large contributor to the environmental footprint of many of the products we buy. However, a recent study of the breakfast cereal supply chain by researchers at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment found that manufacturers can have a far greater ability than farmers to reduce the carbon footprint of food. The study, carried out by IonE's NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise, found that manufacturing has more than six times the ability of agriculture to reduce the carbon footprint of corn cereal products and nearly three times the ability for wheat cereal products. Source: University of Minnesota, 10/28/14

Xerox Provides New Tools to Reduce Printing Impact
Here's a reality check: Although paper consumption is declining in North America, it is still on the rise worldwide. And before we get too carried away patting ourselves on the back, it's worth noting that Americans still use far more paper per capita than any other people in the world, upwards of 500 pounds per year each. A full 40 percent of all industrial logging goes into paper production, and that number is expected to increase. Xerox just announced a couple of new services that can help reduce paper consumption. That might be a little surprising for a company that, not long ago, made most of its revenue based on the number of pages customers printed. Now, in additional to copiers, the company also provides services like document management, which has reoriented Xerox towards helping its customers become more productive. Source: Triple Pundit, 11/10/14

OH: Tall prairie grass being planted at airport to cut carbon footprint
The Dayton International Airport will plant about 270 additional acres of tall prairie grass with a goal of reducing the facility's carbon footprint and bird strikes and creating a home for neotropical songbirds. Source: Dayton Daily News, 11/0/14

Business and government must collaborate on resilience
In a world of increasing chaotic pressures and turbulent change, all efforts must converge to improve resilience as the first step to sustainability. Source: GreenBiz, 11/11/14

Monday, November 10, 2014
HP reinforces protection of foreign migrant workers
HP today took a major step forward in expanding its leading supply chain program on preventing exploitative labor practices and forced labor. HP is the first company in the IT industry to require direct employment of foreign migrant workers in its supply chain. The additional standard combines this direct employment requirement with rights relating to worker retention of passports and personal documentation and the elimination of worker-paid recruitment fees. Source: Good Electronics, 11/10/14

Open Letter Urges Action to Bolster Dodd-Frank 'Conflict Minerals' Law
An open letter published recently calls for comprehensive action by the U.S. and European governments, United Nations, governments in the Great Lakes region, electronics, metals, and jewelry corporations, and the international community to bolster the impacts of Dodd-Frank "conflict minerals" regulations. Signers to the letter, "Conflict Minerals: A Broader Push for Reform is Essential," include Congolese civil society groups and leaders, former ambassadors, policy experts, and human rights organizations. Source: The Enough Project, 10/30/14

MI: Lack of subsidies pushes recyclers to rethink -- or charge for -- electronics recycling
A 'quirk' in the law that outlines Michigan's electronics takeback program has recyclers concerned that many old-style TVs and computer monitors could soon end up in the landfill even though they contain harmful pollutants such as lead. As original equipment manufacturers of electronics have stopped offering subsidies for recyclers to process cathode ray tube (CRT) TVs and monitors -- the bulky displays that adorned desks and entertainment centers for decades, recyclers have begun phasing out their recycling programs or have started to charge customers to recycle the products. Original equipment manufacturers such as Sony and Panasonic had subsidized recyclers' programs for years, but lately that funding has dried up, said Scott Vander Kooy, president of Grand Rapids-based Comprenew, a nonprofit electronics recycler. In October, the Grand Rapids-based nonprofit announced that it would begin charging customers between $8 and $50 to recycle CRT computer monitors and televisions starting this month. Source:, 11/9/14

Big Ten student leaders plan green association
Students at the University of Maryland are trying to create a sustainability association to unite schools across the Big Ten. University of Maryland junior Ori Gutin wanted to bring together representatives from green-oriented RSOs from each Big Ten school to promote various types of environmentally conscious and zero-waste programs, which would make the Big Ten the first athletic conference to boast such an association. Source: The Daily Illini, 11/10/14

Friday, November 7, 2014
New Battery Said to Recharge in Minutes and Last 20 Years
Charging your phone battery can be inconvenient and take awhile, but what if you could get a proper power refueling in just a few minutes? Scientists at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore say they developed a lithium-ion battery that can go from zero to 70% power capacity in two minutes. Lithium-ion batteries are commonly used in phones and tablets. Source: Mashable, 10/14/14

MN: Retailers Sign on as PaintCare Drop-off Sites, Make It Easy to Recycle Leftover Paint
Starting Nov. 1, more than 100 retail drop-off sites throughout the state will accept leftover cans of latex and oil paint from households and painting contractors. An additional 60 locations will be added by summer 2015. Source: BusinessWire, 10/31/14

Six simple steps for businesses to manage water risks and opportunities
Businesses should not be complacent about water risks; mapping risks and identifying priority areas for action are key to effective water management. Source: The Guardian, 11/6/14

How this building saved energy and made $80K (and counting)
Here's how demand response optimized energy in this million-square-foot Chicago high rise. Source: GreenBiz, 11/6/14

Can sports make sustainability mainstream?
The global reach of sports is something sustainability advocates can only dream of -- and it could help environmental engagement move from exception to societal norm. Source: Ensia, 11/4/14

Striving for a Climate Change
Yale law professor Dan Kahan has emerged as one of the key researchers studying and shaping climate communications and seeking ways to help scientists communicate with people whose views are shaped by cultural and ideological factors. "The only way to make progress is to use empirical methods to rip from the sea of the plausible the thing that actually matters. Otherwise we drown in storytelling," he argues. Source: Chronicle of Higher Education, 11/3/14

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