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Environmental News


Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Friday, October 13, 2017
In Northern Minnesota, Two Economies Square Off: Mining vs. Wilderness
Proposed mines near the Boundary Waters have become the latest front in the fight over who gets to profit from America's natural resources. Source: New York Times Magazine, 10/12/17

California identifies 'priority' packaging for mandatory policy
Film, expanded polystyrene and pouches are among the materials and products California officials say could be subject to mandatory packaging management rules. Source: Plastics Recycling Update, 10/11/17

Report identifies 6 applications for organic waste in construction
The consulting firm Arup released a report on Oct. 11 detailing how organic waste could be used in construction projects to further "close the loop" and develop a more circular economy. The report mentions, for example, using potato peels as a fire-resistant insulating material and sound dampener. Source: Waste Dive, 10/12/17

The School Synthetic-Turf Wars
Towns are weighing the practicality of artificial fields against the potential health risks for the kids who play on them. Source: The Atlantic, 10/12/17

Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Apple made 2 simple changes to iPhone packaging that drastically cut the amount of plastic headed to the landfill
Subtle changes in recent Apple packaging has significantly reduced the amount of plastic that ends up in the trash -- and most iPhone buyers probably didn't even notice. Apple was able to redesign iPhone 7 packaging to use 84% less plastic, the company revealed in a new report on its forestry operations. Source: Business Insider, 10/10/17

Winter Is Coming. What If Roads And Runways Could De-Ice Themselves?
Researchers at various universities are working on surfaces that can de-ice themselves, so salt or de-icing chemicals don't have to be used on roads and other paved surfaces in the winter. The Federal Aviation Administration supports this work because keeping runways clear is a big problem for airports in cold places. Source: NPR, 10/1/17

What LEED Did for Buildings, Sustainable SITES Will Do for Landscapes -- and Not a Moment Too Soon
At the forefront of this movement toward "greening" our landscapes is the Sustainable SITES Initiative (SITES), a program based on the understanding that land is a crucial component of the built environment and can be planned, designed, developed, and maintained to avoid, mitigate, and even reverse the detrimental impacts of urbanization and development. Source: Retrofit, 7/17/17

Largest Michigan Solar Park Begins Commercial Operation
The 200,000-panel array broke ground in 2016 and is spread across more than 250 acres. The facility is estimated to produce sufficient clean energy to power 11,000 homes. Source: Commercial Property Executive, 10/10/17

Instead Of Throwing Out This Plastic Wrapper, You Eat It
Evoware is made from seaweed--and if you don't feel like eating it, it will biodegrade just fine. Source: Fast Company, 10/6/17

Know your cement, get greener concrete
An international team of scientists has created a new database of molecular dynamics models that simulate the properties of cement in all its varieties. It's intended to help fine-tune this component of concrete and curtail emissions in its manufacturing process. Source: Phys.org, 10/9/17

What does it look like to embed sustainability across an organization?
If a company is committed to integrating sustainability into its operations, it cannot do so effectively just by assigning the responsibility to a chief sustainability officer or comparable position. Source: GreenBiz, 10/10/17

What Can Cities Do to Go "Blue"?
In a number of projects and proposals, architects and urban planners are working with water instead of against it. Source: Smithsonian Magazine, 10/2/17

EPA Launches Smart Sectors Program
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has announced the launch of Smart Sectors, a partnership program between the Agency and regulated sectors focused on achieving better environmental outcomes. A sector-based, collaborative approach provides a significant opportunity for EPA to consider more forward-thinking ways to protect the environment.

EPA has initially identified the following sectors to work with: aerospace; agriculture; automotive; cement and concrete; chemical manufacturing; construction; electronics and technology; forestry and paper products; iron and steel; mining; oil and gas; ports and marine; and utilities and power generation. Source: U.S. EPA, 10/3/17


Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Creative Distillers Tackle Food Waste, Redefining 'Getting Trashed'
Distillers like Misadventure Vodka and Ventura Spirits are getting creative when it comes to reducing food waste. Source: NPR, 10/3/17

Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Too little is known about the compounds in wildfire smoke
How do fire-suppression chemicals and pesticides affect wildfire smoke and the health of those who breathe it? UC Davis graduate students discovered that this question cannot be answered based on current scientific evidence and, in a review published in "Current Topics in Toxicology," they recommend studies on the compounds in wildfire smoke. Source: The Davis Enterprise, 10/1/17

What would an entirely flood-proof city look like?
The wetter the better. From sponge cities in China to 'berms with benefits' in New Jersey and floating container classrooms in the slums of Dhaka, The Guardian looks at a range of projects that treat storm water as a resource rather than a hazard. Source: The Guardian, 9/25/17

Wal-Mart Steps Up Push to Shed Potentially Harmful Chemicals
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is expanding its program to clean up the products it sells, setting a 2022 target for reducing potentially harmful substances and widening the list of chemicals it wants to avoid. Source: Bloomberg News, 9/27/17

Cities need sustainable goods delivery plans
Many cities have developed strategies to move people more efficiently and safely within the urban environment. Much less attention has been paid to the importance of delivering goods to people at work and home. While conducting a recent research project, the GreenBiz Research team learned that city leaders need to broaden their perspective to understand the tradeoffs involved in moving people, as well as the goods and services they require, when planning for a healthy, safe and equitable urban environment. Source: GreenBiz, 9/26/17

Non-toxic flame retardant enters market, study suggests
Chemists have developed and patented an environmentally friendly way to produce flame retardants for foams that can be used in mattresses and upholstery. Unlike previous flame retardants made of chemicals containing chlorine, the new material is non-toxic and effective, researchers say. Source: Science Daily, 9/28/17

Could Evaporation Be a Significant Source of Renewable Energy?
One drawback of wind and solar power is intermittency, resulting in the need for energy storage. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, biophysicist Ozgur Sahin explains how evaporation from lakes and reservoirs could be transformed into a stable source of renewable energy. Source: E360, 9/28/17

Friday, September 29, 2017
El-egg-tronics: how egg white could help us make transparent, flexible devices
Materials scientists have found that egg white can be turned into a film-like substance that's perfect for making memory units. Researchers from Southwest University in China, led by Qunliang Song, showed that when egg white is mixed with hydrogen peroxide, a series of chemical reactions occur that allow the material to be turned into a film that can be used to make transparent, flexible resistive memory. Source: TechRadar, 9/29/17

French Lawsuit Takes on Printer Manufacturers and Planned Obsolescence
Whether it has become the norm in the manufacturing of home appliances or smartphones, planned obsolescence is both bad for consumers and bad for the environment. The concept that products should be designed so they will become quickly unwanted or unusable has become the reality in many industries. A French legal organization, Halte Ă  L'Obsolescence ProgrammĂȘe (HOP), says it has seen enough of this trend, particularly when it comes to printer manufacturers. Recently, HOP filed a lawsuit in a local French court against some of the world's most widely-known brands. The lawsuit alleges that Brother, Canon, Epson and HP are amongst companies deliberately shortening the lifespan of both printers and cartridges. The litigation claims these companies' alleged business practice of manufacturing goods that purposefully stop working not long after their purchase violates a law French legislators passed in 2015. Source: Triple Pundit, 9/29/17

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