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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Dow Launches More Sustainable Surface Finishes
Dow Electronic Materials will next week launch its more sustainable surface finishing solutions for the electronic and industrial finishing markets, which provide alternatives to the use of cyanide, nickel and lead as well as improvements in process efficiencies and waste reduction, the company says. Source: Environmental Leader, 6/18/14

Sexual violence and conflict minerals: international demand fuels cycle
While some companies such as Apple and Intel are progressing in ethical sourcing, many are doing nothing to stop link between electronic devices and sexual conflict. Source: The Guardian, 6/18/14

Tuesday, June 17, 2014
4 ways Ford paves the way to water efficiency
The automaker shares lessons that companies in any industry can use to shore up their water resilience. Source: GreenBiz, 6/17/14

9 smart water solutions for that 'wicked problem'
Too often businesses address water in a one-dimensional way. These wickedly smart solutions move beyond the mainstream. Source: GreenBiz, 6/17/14

Friday, June 13, 2014
REEcyle Takes the Gold in the 2014 National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition
REEcycle from the University of Houston won the Energy Department's National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition today. The competition, now in its third year, is part of President Obama's Startup America Initiative, which aims to celebrate, inspire and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation. To rise to the top of the competition, REEcycle developed a profitable way to reclaim rare earth elements from magnets in electronics. Rare earth elements are critical to manufacturing clean energy technologies, including wind turbines, energy-efficient lights, thin-film solar cells and motors and batteries for electric vehicles. The company acquires used electronics from recyclers and extracts rare earth elements using a patented solvent combined with low temperatures. Source: US Department of Energy, 6/12/14

Startup literally wants to turn your tech garbage into gold
BlueOak Resources, a Burlingame, California-based startup, plans to mine for and refine gold, silver, copper, and other precious metals in the US. But before you call your local chapter of the Natural Resources Defense Council to organize a protest in anticipation of environmental calamity, consider the source from which the company plans to "mine" such valuable materials: our old electronics gadgets. According to BlueOak's cofounders Priv Bradoo and Bryce Goodman, instead of partaking in such environmentally destructive, dangerous, and carbon-intensive activities as strip-mining, open-pit mining, and mountaintop removal and extraction to bring the precious metals and rare earth elements necessary to power our electronics gadgets to market, the company instead aims to focus on "above the ground recovery." Source: ArsTechnica, 6/10/14

EPA Identifies Safer Substitutes for Toxic Flame Retardants
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing safer alternatives to the flame retardants now used in consumer and commercial products, including building insulation and products with flexible polyurethane foam. Source: U.S. EPA, 6/12/14

Thursday, June 12, 2014
Illinois Sustainable Technology Center's One Billion Gallon Challenge Announces First Research / Technology Demonstration Grants for Illinois
Four water research projects were announced Friday, May 30 - the first steps toward a goal of saving one billion gallons of water in Illinois. Source: ISTC. 6/12/14

Finding a Narrative: 'Sustainability' Doesn't Mean Anything Real to Consumers
According to a new Rainforest Alliance report, "sustainability" doesn't mean anything to consumers. So, how do companies translate the idea of sustainability into a narrative that resonates with consumers? Or more broadly, how does an organization trying to communicate sustainability tell the story without using the word "sustainable"? Source: Triple Pundit, 6/11/14

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Governor signs bill making Illinois first state to ban microbeads
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Sunday banning the manufacture and sale of personal care products containing synthetic plastic microbeads. The new law bans the manufacture of personal care products containing microbeads by the end of 2017, the sale of personal care products and the manufacture of over the counter drugs by the end of 2018, and the sale of over the counter drugs by the end of 2019. Environmentalists have said the non-biodegradable plastic particles used as exfoliants in many facial cleansers and soaps slip through sewage system filters and pile up in waterways, where they suck up toxins and harm wildlife. Preliminary studies in Lake Michigan have found millions of microbeads. Source: Chicago Tribune, 6/8/14

Performance Data for Comparing the World's Cities
The first-ever set of ISO standards for world cities has been created, giving city policymakers a way to compare their services and performance with other cities around the world. Source: FutureStructure, 6/4/14

From Trash to Treasure: Recapturing and Repurposing Our Garbage
Closing the loop on waste -- and integrating it with other systems -- may be more than a noble policy goal. In fact, it may make smart economic sense as well. Source: FutureStructure, 5/30/14

Why we desperately need chemical literacy
Consumers need to know what's in the products they buy, so companies must go up the supply chain to learn exactly what's in the products they sell. Source: GreenBiz, 6/10/14

4 ways cities can invest now in climate resilience
Protecting coastal cities from sea level rise will require a blend of solutions best offered through proactive planning. Source: GreenBiz, 6/11/14

Composting gains steam in suburban schools, homes
Across the suburbs, food scrap composting is taking hold at institutions and households that want to go beyond recycling. Composting diverts more material from landfills and lengthens their life spans. It also helps reduce greenhouse gases and cuts waste hauling costs. Further, the process recovers more nutrients than sending scraps down the garbage disposal, experts say. ISTC assisted Lewis University with establishing their composting program. Source: Daily Herald, 6/11/14

You Say Tomato; We Say Tom-Auto: Ford and Heinz Collaborate on Sustainable Materials for Vehicles
Researchers at Ford and Heinz are investigating the use of tomato fibers in developing sustainable, composite materials for use in vehicle manufacturing. Specifically, dried tomato skins could become the wiring brackets in a Ford vehicle or the storage bin a Ford customer uses to hold coins and other small objects. Source: Ford press release, 6/10/14

How much fertilizer is too much for Earth's climate?
In a new study published in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Michigan State University researchers provide an improved prediction of nitrogen fertilizer's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural fields. Source: Michigan State University, 6/9/14

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