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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Monday, July 20, 2015
How Big Water is trying to stop the National Park Service from cleaning up plastic bottles that are fouling the parks
The National Park Service thought it had a good strategy for reining in the discarded water bottles that clog the trash cans and waste stream of the national parks: stop selling disposable bottles and let visitors refill reusable ones with public drinking water. But Big Water has stepped in to block the parks from banning the plastic pollutants -- and the industry found an ally on Capitol Hill to add a little-noticed amendment to a House spending bill that would kill the policy. Source: Washington Post, 7/13/15

A Brief History of Household Recycling
Recycling programs might seem ordinary today, but it wasn't long ago that the vast majority of households sent 100 percent of their waste to landfills. These days, the most ambitious cities are adding "zero-waste" goals to a growing list of "green" policies. Will any of them truly arrive at a future without trash? If the past is any guide, the best ideas for how to get there will be the result of years of testing and tinkering. Source: CityLab, 7/20/15

The tech industry is threatening to drink California dry
With California thought to have only one year of water left, Silicon Valley data centers are trying to reduce their needs for cooling. Source: The Guardian, 7/20/15

Serving up plant-based plastics
Mold maker and manufacturer VistaTek LLC created an independent company, SelfEco, which specializes in food service items. SelfEco products are made with polylactic acid supplied by NatureWorks LLC. The company will introduce a new line of home and garden products this month at Cultivate'15, a horticulture show in Columbus, Ohio. Source: Plastics News, 7/10/15

Friday, July 17, 2015
Distillers Join the Fight Against Food Waste
These companies are turning ugly and overripe fruit into high-end spirits like brandy and liqueur. Source: Civil Eats, 6/24/15

Why We're All a Part of the Green Electronics Conversation
From material sourcing and production to recovery and recycling, stakeholders in the electronics space embraced the concept of a circular economy years before it was fashionable. Source: Triple Pundit, 7/14/15

The Greening Of Sports -- And Where We're All Headed Next
ESPN's Sarah Spain moderated a panel at the fifth GSA summit. In this post, she details what she learned as a result. Source: ESPN, 7/17/15

Resilience as economic driver? How climate action can curb inequality
It's sometimes hard to understand how fighting the negative effects of climate change relates to the economic success of America, including its most vulnerable citizens. We talk a lot about this at Urban Solutions, and it was articulated extremely well during a recent presentation by President Barack Obama's top budget expert. Source: GreenBiz, 7/15/15

Thursday, July 16, 2015
From Energy Star to Tenant Star: The next frontier in building efficiency
Tenant Star, a tenant-focused version of EPA's successful Energy Star building program, could have big implications for the efficiency of commercial spaces. Source: GreenBiz, 7/10/15

Wednesday, July 15, 2015
A Biodegradable Computer Chip That Performs Surprisingly Well
Biodegradable, wood-based computer chips can perform just as well as chips commonly used for wireless communication, according to new research. The inventors argue that the new chips could help address the global problem of rapidly accumulating electronic waste, some of which contains potentially toxic materials. The results also show that a transparent, wood-derived material called nanocellulose paper is an attractive alternative to plastic as a surface for flexible electronics. Source: MIT Technology Review, 7/14/15

Startup Uses Climate-Changing Methane to Make Eco-Friendly Plastic
A small Costa Mesa, Calif., company has lined up contracts with major corporations to supply the plastic for packaging, containers and chairs from potent methane that would've instead seeped into the atmosphere. Source: FutureStructure, 7/14/15

Bloomington, Ill., Power Deal to Emphasize Renewable Sources
The city of Bloomington, Ill., has decided to accept $100,000 a year less from the community's electricity provider in exchange for stressing renewable energy sources. Source: FutureStructure, 7/14/15

Rauner signs electronics recycling bill into law
A temporary fix aimed to save underfunded electronics recycling programs statewide was signed into law last week by Gov. Bruce Rauner, allowing Will County officials to breathe a sigh relief -- for now. Source: Joliet Herald-News, 7/14/15

Tuesday, July 14, 2015
NC bill could eliminate e-waste manufacturer fees
A North Carolina bill that passed the state senate could remove electronics manufacturers' responsibility to fund the recycling of electronics. If it becomes law, HB 765 would repeal manufacturers' recycling fee requirements for discarded computer equipment and televisions, which totaled nearly $1 million in the last fiscal year. Even without manufacturer's requirements to help recycle e-waste, such waste still will be prohibited from landfills. Source: Waste Dive, 7/10/15

Removing Toxic Electronics From NYC's Waste
While the dangers of climate change attract more attention than other environmental issues, the problems of waste and toxics also persist--and are worthy of attention and action. One of the fastest growing environmental problems of the past decade has been the rapid increase in electronic waste. As society moves from the iPhone 2 to the iPhone 6, all of those old iPhones must go somewhere. Tablets, PCs, old TVs, DVD players, wireless routers and countless other devices are nearly always abandoned before their useful life is over. Many of these devices contain small quantities of toxic substances. When discarded, these toxics can enter our routine garbage pick up and disposal system. That system is not designed to handle hazardous waste. Here in New York City, efforts to regulate and manage electronic waste began during Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC program and continue under Mayor de Blasio's OneNYC. This past January, New York City and New York State instituted a ban on disposing electronic waste in regular garbage disposal. New Yorkers who toss their iPhone into the garbage could be subject to a $100 fine. In New York City, the Sanitation Department does not provide regularly scheduled pickup of electronic waste and since many apartment dwellers do not own autos, disposing larger pieces of electronic waste legally may be infeasible or at least inconvenient. In response, the city's Sanitation Department has developed a program that works with apartment buildings to collect electronic waste. Source: The Huffington Post, 7/13/15

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