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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Making the Business Case for a Circular Economy
The financial opportunities and environmental benefits of a circular economy in the electronics sector -- where waste becomes a resource for new products -- was the focus of the recent Emerging Green conference held by the Green Electronics Council in Portland, Oregon. Source: Environmental Leader, 10/13/15

Thursday, October 8, 2015
University of Illinois to offer new sustainability minor: Sustainability, Energy and Environment Fellows Program
Six academic units came together to offer the new Sustainability, Energy and Environment Fellows Program, a campuswide undergraduate minor through the Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment to promote systems-level thinking about energy and sustainability, and to foster the development of an integrated view of the economy, society and the environment. Source: Inside Illinois, 10/8/15

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
ASU students' machine turns trash to 3-D filament
Two robotics engineering students out of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering have found a way to take recyclable plastic and turn it into filament for 3-D printers. "3DCycler is a product and a system built around turning recyclable plastics like water bottles, party cups, Tupperware, anything like that, into 3-D printable filament that can be used to print new parts," co-founder of 3DCycler and robotics Joshua Kosar said. Source: The State Press, 10/5/15

Let's Modernize Our Environmental Laws
Written when smog was an emergency, the Clean Air Act allows the E.P.A. to require that states, businesses and individuals reduce smog-forming emissions regardless of the economic damage done. Some parts of the act forbid the E.P.A. even to consider cost or job losses. That sort of thinking was appropriate during the smog emergencies of the past. Now it's counterproductive. Source: New York Times, 10/7/15

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Flame Retardant Breakthrough is Naturally Derived and Nontoxic
Inspired by a naturally occurring material found in marine mussels, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have created a new flame retardant to replace commercial additives that are often toxic and can accumulate over time in the environment and living animals, including humans. Source: University of Texas, 10/5/15

Top 30 Sustainable College Run Farms
The college farm movement has seen steady growth in the last ten years along with the farm to table phenomenon, as our ranking of the Top 30 Sustainable College Run Farms will attest. College farms are no longer just research sites, but have evolved to become centers of student solidarity and community nutrition. To be considered for our top 30 ranking, our initial pool of 100 college farms had to demonstrate sustainability. This sustainability was measured in terms of significant student involvement, environmentally friendly methods, diversity of production, connection with college instruction, and farm sales targeting both the college and surrounding community. Source: College Values Online, September 2015

Second Nature Climate Leadership Network & Three Commitments
Second Nature's network of signatory institutions is now named the Climate Leadership Network. Following a strategic planning process with feedback from presidents and implementation staff at signatory institutions, Second Nature has announced three commitments that integrate and rebrand current efforts. The American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) has been renamed the Carbon Commitment. To advance the mission of the Alliance for Resilient Campuses (ARC), the Resilience Commitment has formed. Together, the concepts of carbon neutrality and the climate resilience constitute the new Climate Commitment. Source: Second Nature, 10/2/15

Friday, October 2, 2015
Target Expands Sustainable Product Index to Include 1,000+ Toxic Chemicals
Target has improved its sustainable product standard by beginning to test category-specific criteria and consider more toxic chemicals. The retailer's Sustainable Product Index evaluates products based on a points system and the highest-scoring options are promoted under its "Made to Matter" banner. Source: Sustainable Brands, 9/28/15

CPSC considers ban on toxic flame retardants in household products
For the government's top consumer safety watchdog, protecting Americans from household hazards typically means prodding companies to recall defective products that strangle children, cause life-threatening burns or trigger bone-breaking falls. The chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission thinks it is time to start forcing toxic chemicals off the market too. In an interview, Elliot Kaye said his experience as the father of two young boys led him to push for more aggressive government action to protect children from harmful substances commonly found in toys and other household products. Source: Chicago Tribune, 9/28/15

'Ethical' Fairphone 2 smartphone launched to combat electronic waste
Fairphone 2 -- the sequel to the world's first "ethical smartphone" -- has launched in the UK, at a cost of £395. The original Fairphone, which launched in 2013, promised to avoid using components made with minerals from conflict mines, improve working conditions for factory staff in China and reduce e-waste. The phone proved a relative success, with 60,000 buyers, allowing the Amsterdam-based social enterprise behind the device to develop a new model without relying on external investment. The Fairphone 2, which has been co-designed with London design agency Seymourpowell, features a 5-inch, full HD Gorilla Glass LCD display and runs Android 5.1 (Lollipop), with 32GB of internal storage. It has a modular architecture that Fairphone claims is easy to open and repair, and the phone's back cover, which comes in a range of colours, wraps around the front edge of the screen, functioning as a shatter-proof case. Source: The Telegraph, 9/28/15

Volkswagen Scandal Ripples Through Entire Auto Industry
The impact of the Volkswagen emissions scandal is enormous, affecting and the health of local communities as well as the livelihood and reputation of auto dealers and mechanics, on top of hundreds of thousands of car owners who bought into the company's "clean diesel" marketing. That's just for starters. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also placed all auto manufacturers under heightened scrutiny, and the scandal casts a pall over Volkswagen's other sustainability projects. On September 25, EPA also sent a letter notifying auto manufacturers of the change in emissions testing procedures. It was short and to the point. Here is the relevant passage: "&EPA may test or require testing on any vehicle at a designated location, using driving cycles and conditions that may reasonably be expected to be encountered in normal operation and use, for the purposes of investigating a potential defeat device." Source: Triple Pundit, 10/2/15

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