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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Thursday, October 27, 2016
Researchers find problems in tracking North American e-scrap exports
A recent study estimated the volume of used computers and display devices traded among and exported from North American countries to the rest of the world. But the researchers encountered a lack of solid data, and they suggested ways to improve e-scrap export numbers. Many might expect the often-discussed hotspots for North American e-scrap exports, including places in East Asia, Latin America and Africa, to be listed as top destinations in this exports study. Instead, researchers found many of the countries listed as top destinations are likely waypoints for electronics headed elsewhere. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) took the lead in conducting the study on behalf of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a joint U.S.-Canada-Mexico body set up as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Researchers explored the quantities of used desktops, laptops, CRT monitors and flat-panel monitors traveling between the three countries and being exported by them to the rest of the world. It was based on 2010 data. Researchers found that data limitations made it impossible to pin down exact numbers on e-scrap exports. For example, they were able to determine that the U.S. exported between 1.1 million and 7 million used computers, and 779,000 and 5.7 million used monitors in 2010. Source: Resource Recycling, 10/27/16

Researchers invent 'perfect' soap molecule
A team of researchers, led by the University of Minnesota, has invented a new soap molecule made from renewable sources that could dramatically reduce the number of chemicals in cleaning products and their impact on the environment. Source: University of Minnesota, 10/26/16

Household Sustainability: Consuming Food, Energy, Water
Changing people's behavior may be the hardest part of mitigating climate change. But a research team led by Michigan Technological University wants to find a way to do just that.

As part of a new program called Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is awarding the team nearly $3 million over five years. Their research focuses on how household consumption of food, energy and water (FEW) impacts climate change and resource scarcity. Source: Michigan Technological University, 10/24/16

Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Making A Better Phone Battery From Beer Brewery Waste
For every pint of beer produced by a brewery, seven pints of waste water are created. And it can't just be washed down the drain--the waste requires extra cleaning first. But what if the gunk that comes out of that water could be used for something useful? Like, for making batteries? That's exactly what a research team at University of Colorado Boulder is doing. Source: Fast Company, 10/25/16

What If Environmental Activists And Big Businesses Decided To Get Along?
Future 500 is an experiment at overcoming politics and getting big brands to find common ground with leading nonprofits. Source: Fast Company, 10/25/16

Tuesday, October 25, 2016
A world without waste: the rise of urban mining
Commercial properties could become the mines of the future, providing materials for reuse and cutting costs and landfill waste. Source: The Guardian, 10/25/16

Limited Resources and the Vision of a Circular Economy
Technology is boosting the idea of a zero-waste framework in which everything is used, reused and recovered. Source: Governing, 10/25/16

Major Food Companies to Tackle Water Risks In Their Global Supply Chains
As climate change, population growth and water pollution increase pressure on freshwater resources, seven global food and beverage companies announced commitments to work with thousands of growers in their global supply chains to reduce water use and pollution impacts. Source: Ceres, 10/24/16

Monday, October 24, 2016
The cost of plastic packaging
The growing use of plastic food packaging benefits consumers, but critics say industry isn't doing enough to minimize the negative environmental impact. Source: Chemicai & Engineering News, 10/17/16

Great Lakes experts push for restoration funding after election
November's presidential election is a harbinger of big change for federal programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a multi-milliondollar program that addresses a multitude of Great Lakes problems. Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, convened an expert panel recently to discuss the future of the program. The day-long conversation on Madeline Island, Wisconsin, resulted in 12 conclusions to inform policy under a new presidential administration and Congress. Source: Great Lakes Echo, 10/21/16

The Comprehensive Business Case for Sustainability
Today's executives are dealing with a complex and unprecedented brew of social, environmental, market, and technological trends. These require sophisticated, sustainability-based management. Yet executives are often reluctant to place sustainability core to their company's business strategy in the mistaken belief that the costs outweigh the benefits. On the contrary, academic research and business experience point to quite the opposite. Source: Harvard Business Review, 10/21/16

Friday, October 21, 2016
Watchdog: EPA Action To Protect Flint Residents From Lead Was Delayed 7 Months
The Environmental Protection Agency had the authority and information to issue an emergency order protecting residents of Flint, Mich., from lead-tainted water a full seven months before it did so, an EPA internal investigation has concluded. Source: U.S. EPA, 10/20/16

Minnesota Federal Agencies Win EPA Green Challenge Award
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has honored the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, Minnesota National Guard, and U.S. EPA Mid-Continent Ecology Division, Duluth, with the agency's Federal Green Challenge award. EPA selected the Minnesota federal agencies in recognition of their innovative energy saving and other environmental practices. Source: U.S. EPA, 10/19/16

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