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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

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

Thursday, November 6, 2014
BAN seeks changes in Basel Guidelines to enhance reuse of electronics
Basel Action Network and its e-Stewards recycler/refurbisher certification program is currently undertaking two initiatives to promote responsible electronics refurbishment. The efforts are designed to reflect the environmental and social preference for longevity, reuse, and refurbishment of electronic equipment rather than disposal or recycling. Source: Recycling Portal, 11/6/14

The Closed Loop Fund Helps Cities Increase Recycling
Last week, Ron Gonen, co-founder of RecycleBank, took the stage at the Municipal Waste Management Association (MWMA) Fall Summit (the environmental affiliate of the United States Conference of Mayors) to announce his latest project, the Closed Loop Fund -- a consortium of large corporate companies that plan to invest $100 million over the next five years to support the development of recycling infrastructure and services. Source: Triple Pundit, 10/30/14

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
2014 GreenGov Presidential Award Winners
The GreenGov Presidential Awards celebrate extraordinary achievement in the pursuit of President Obama's Executive Order on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance. They honor Federal civilian and military personnel, agency teams, agency projects and facilities, and agency programs that exemplify President Obama's charge to lead by example towards a clean energy economy. Source: The White House, 10/31/14

Energy Department Announces New Lab Program to Accelerate Commercialization of Clean Energy Technologies
The Department of Energy hsa launched a new $2.3 million pilot program to accelerate the transfer of innovative clean energy technologies from the DOE's National Laboratories into the commercial marketplace. Lab-Corps aims to better train and empower national lab researchers to successfully transition their discoveries into high-impact, real world technologies in the private sector. Source: U.S. DOE, 10/29/14

Large-Scale Batteries Are Integral in Shift to Renewable Energy
Finding a cheap, reliable way to store electricity generated by renewables is the hope of many researchers, government officials and power producers. Source: Pittsburg Tribune-Review via FutureStructure, 10/21/14

Grey Water Systems Becoming More Popular Due to Drought
Grey water systems that take spent water from showers, bathroom faucets and washers and use it to quench the landscape are seen by some as the next step in sustainability. Source: Los Angeles Times via FutureStructure, 11/4/14

Small and medium-sized businesses can lead the agenda on sustainable growth
SMEs are already the bedrock of most domestic economies. With the right tools and support, they could well become the foundation of sustainable economic growth too. Source: The Guardian, 11/4/14

Why metals should be recycled, not mined
Extractive companies need to recast themselves as resource stewards and embrace the circular economy by investing in recycling, not mining. Source: The Guardian, 11/5/14

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