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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Formation of Trivalent Chromium Passivation Layers
The trivalent process is proven to be a safe replacement for hex chrome, but fundamental knowledge of its composition is required. Source: Products Finishing, 3/1/18

Washington State takes action to eliminate use of PFAS in food packaging
Out of concern about consumer's health and contamination of compost, on February 28, 2018, Washington State extended its heavy metal packaging law in a groundbreaking way. The legislature passed HB-2658 banning the intentional use of "perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances" (PFAS) in food packaging made from plant fibers, pending a determination by the Washington Department of Ecology that safer alternatives are available. The law defines PFAS as "a class of fluorinated organic chemicals containing at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom." Source: Environmental Defense Fund, 3/8/18

UF Pharmacy researchers discover new method to harvest 'green' sunscreen ingredient
With spring break only weeks away, many Americans will apply sunscreen to protect against the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation. Now, scientists at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy have identified a new method to harvest a key ingredient responsible for making the product more environmentally friendly. Source: University of Florida, 1/31/18

Why efforts to use green fuels sometimes run afoul
Some microbes thrive on biofuels and can contaminate fuel equipment and clog engines. Source: Chemical & Engineering News, 3/5/18

The Business Benefits of Going Green with Your Supply Chain
Sustainability efforts can span many areas of the supply chain. Here are a few areas to consider when looking at supply chain sustainability. Source: Logistics Viewpoints, 3/8/18

World Hacks: A surprising new afterlife for chewing gum
British designer Anna Bullus is on a mission to recycle chewing gum into useful objects, cleaning up our streets in the process. Source: BBC, 3/6/18

EPA Researchers Publish Paper Analyzing Household Products for Chemical Presence
In a new study, EPA researchers used suspect screening to test household products for the presence of a wide variety of chemicals. This approach allows EPA to assess the potential for chemical exposure from products found in typical households and other indoor environments. This information is used to improve computational models that predict human exposure to these chemicals and evaluate chemicals for potential health effects. Source: U.S. EPA, 3/12/18

Chicago greenprint update maps fate of natural resources
City planners in Chicago are mapping natural resources to help figure out where to build houses and preserve open spaces. Source: Great Lakes Echo, 3/12/18

Microplastic pollution in oceans is far worse than feared, say scientists
A study reveals highest microplastic pollution levels ever recorded in a river in Manchester, UK and shows that billions of particles flooded into the sea from rivers in the area in just one year. Source: The Guardian, 3/12/18

Thursday, March 8, 2018
How Food Businesses are Taking the Lead to Reduce Waste
At WasteExpo, representatives from ReFED, Compass Group and the Food Marketing Institute will discuss solutions to the problem of food waste. Source: Waste360, 3/8/18

Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Compost Pedallers turns food waste into a boon for local communities
Compost Pedallers tackles the food waste problem head-on by taking discarded food and turning it into a beneficial resource for local communities. Source: Shareable, 2/27/18

Coyuchi for Life Closes the Loop for Home Textiles
The home textile brand Coyuchi has created a closed loop system that allows subscribers to buy into Coyuchi's efforts to renew and recycle linens. Source: Waste360, 3/5/18

Landfill Sites are Finding Second Lives as Real Estate Properties
Innovative projects have sprung up over the years that house retail, apartments, golf courses, conference centers and hotels. Source: Waste360, 3/5/18

Mind the Store campaign to target more US retailers in 2018
A campaign that evaluates the efforts of US retailers to eliminate toxic chemicals is widening its net in 2018, to assess more companies and sectors. Source: Chemical Watch, 3/1/18

At Levi's, lasers wear your jeans
Levi Strauss & Co.'s new digital process produces vintage looks with fewer chemicals. Source: Chemical & Engineering News, 3/1/18

Lego to launch its first sustainable, plant-based plastic bricks this year
After ramping up its efforts to shift towards more sustainable materials in 2015, perennial purveyor of plastic blocks Lego is making good on that promise and is set to launch a new form of eco-friendly playthings this year. Source: New Atlas, 3/4/18

Friday, March 2, 2018
Amazon pushed by investors to reconsider food waste opportunities
Investors, including Green Century Capital Management Inc., are pushing Amazon to publicly address how much food from its grocery operation goes to waste, according to The Wall Street Journal. Source: Waste Dive, 3/2/18

Everyone wants better data; who pays for it and what's the best way to get it?
The inaugural Measurement Matters Summit in Chattanooga, TN brought together a long list of behind-the-scenes officials and professionals at a previously unprecedented scale this week. "We can't pilot this ship without a compass," said Will Sagar, executive director of the Southeast Recycling Development Council.

A total of 37 states and Washington, D.C. engaged in the Environmental Protection Agency's State Measurement Program during 2016, using Re-TRAC Connect, but more participation is needed and more standardized data would improve the value of those inputs. Better data can help states make the case for agency budgets, learn from other programs, show the economic benefits of various recycling policies and spot opportunities for infrastructure development.

As it stands, many agencies or local governments don't have the budgets to collect this information, let alone thoroughly analyze it. Outdated regulations limiting those activities and differences in terminology are some of the many complicating factors. Getting industry sources to share this information can also be difficult in some cases, further limiting the breadth of what can be collected. Source: Waste Dive, 2/28/18

Thursday, March 1, 2018
Researchers use recycled carbon fiber to improve permeable pavement
A Washington State University research team is solving a high-tech waste problem while addressing the environmental challenge of stormwater run-off. Source: Washington State University, 3/1/18

SGPIA Research Finds 'Digital Divide' in Google Street View of Environmental Issues, Slums
For years, Arroyo Sarandí, a stream that snakes through the working class suburb of Avellaneda in Buenos Aires, has fallen victim to industrial use. Pollution and trash have caused serious flooding and health issues for the people living in villas miserias, or slums, along the river banks.

But you wouldn't know any of that by looking at Google Street View of Avellaneda: Neither the slums nor the environmental issues impacting it appear there.

The gaps in information are keeping researchers and policy analysts in the dark on the extent of the problems in villas miserias, according to a team of researchers at The New School and the University of Buenos Aires. They warn of an emerging "urban digital divide" between places visible on Google Street View and those that are not. Source: The New School, 2/26/18

EPA previews what's next for Sustainable Materials Management program
The Environmental Protection Agency's sustainable materials management activity continues under the Trump administration, with new reports and areas of interest in the works, according to presentations at this week's Measurement Matters Summit in Chattanooga, TN. That includes the 2015 Facts & Figures report, due out later this year on a new interactive website. Source: WasteDive, 3/1/18

Food Diversion Effort Drives Legislative Action and Infrastructure Development
As food waste diversion and prevention become ever-pressing issues, some states are adopting legislation that is driving the efforts of local governments and industries in the space. Further, these states are looking hard at building infrastructure to achieve their goals. Source: Waste360, 3/1/18

China places battery recycling responsibility on car manufacturers
China will require producers of electric vehicles to be responsible for establishing facilities to collect and recycle old batteries, as reported by Reuters. The rules are a part of China's efforts to crack down on e-waste. Source: WasteDive, 3/1/18

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