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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Friday, October 31, 2014
Nigerian recycling initiative proves it's not all about hi-tech solutions
Winner of the Sustainia Award 2014, Wecyclers enables low-income communities to make money from waste and while it's a low-tech innovation, its impact is high Source: The Guardian, 10/30/14

Feds warn plastic bag makers over misleading biodegradable claims
The FTC has warned 15 'bio-friendly' plastic bag companies over deceptive advertising -- but will it have any impact on the dubious disposable plastics industry? Source: The Guardian, 10/31/14

Thursday, October 30, 2014
EPA funds student bioenergy projects under P3 program
The U.S. EPA recently awarded funding to 42 student teams to pursue projects that deliver sustainable, alternative approaches to address environmental problems as part of its People, Prosperity and Plant (P3) program. Several of selected teams' projects focus on bioenergy. Each team is eligible to receive up to $15,000. Source: Biomass Magazine, 10/23/14

To scale sustainable agriculture, work from the ground up
What does "conventional agriculture" mean? What about "sustainable"? Now, try putting these two concepts in one sentence and exacting meaning from it. Experts in farming and sustainability gave it their best effort in a conversation moderated Tuesday at VERGE SF 2014 by Jonathan Kaplan, director of the NRDC's food and agriculture program. Source: GreenBiz, 10/29/14

E-waste Trading Platform Woos 'Ethical' Businesses
When it comes to disposing of electronic waste such as computers, televisions and other gadgets responsibly, there are two big certification programs that can help guide a company's selection of disposal partner. Their oversight is critical for controlling where discarded technology winds up and ensuring that certain toxic components don't find their way into landfills, where they can foul up groundwater supplies and otherwise endanger human health -- especially in rural locations in China and India. Source: Forbes, 10/26/14

The Case for a Climate Goal Other Than Two Degrees Celsius
Scientists and climate negotiators have largely agreed that limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius is an important goal. But political scientist David Victor disagrees, arguing that the benchmark is too simplistic and should be abandoned in favor of other indicators. Source: Yale Environment360, 10/8/14

Innovations in Energy Storage Provide Boost for Renewables
Because utilities can't control when the sun shines or the wind blows, it has been difficult to fully incorporate solar and wind power into the electricity grid. But new technologies designed to store the energy produced by these clean power sources could soon be changing that. Source: Yale Environment360, 10/27/14

Why are major beverage companies refusing to use recycled cans?
Recycling aluminum cans is cheap and it retains the containers' quality. So why won't Coke, Pepsi or Budweiser use them? Source: The Guardian, 10/30/14

Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Working together, EHS systems and CSR rocket a company to success
The EHS system is a catalyst for transformation. Sophisticated EHS software platforms can collect and parse Big Data, allowing compliance managers to work efficiently while contributing to their company's knowledge pool. Analytics captured for risk-management purposes can improve performance and even support CSR programs and sustainability reporting. Source: GreenBiz, 10/22/14

9 ways sustainability drives profit
Today most executives recognize that sustainability must be integrated into their organization's core strategy -- not to say that they necessarily understand why. In fact, too many are still content wearing some kind of sustainability PR badge just because the "About Us" section of their website gives sustainability a one-paragraph mention. For their sake and ours, here are nine reasons why all of us might want to redefine how we approach sustainability. Source: GreenBiz, 10/23/14

EPA Provides Additional Information on Clean Power Plan
As part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's extensive outreach since issuing the proposed Clean Power Plan, EPA is making additional information and ideas available for public comment in a notice of data availability (NODA). At the same time, EPA is following through on its commitment made in June to propose goals to reduce carbon pollution in areas of Indian Country and U.S. Territories where fossil-fuel power plants are located. Source: U.S. EPA, 10/28/14

When it comes to food packaging, what we don't know could hurt us
Recent analyses raise disturbing questions about the health and environmental effects of the stuff that encases our edibles. Source: Ensia, 10/13/14

Monday, October 27, 2014
Inside Paul Hawken's audacious plan to 'drawdown' climate change
Can a book be the salvation to the global climate challenge? Source: GreenBiz, 10/22/14

Inside the lonely fight against the biggest environmental problem you've never heard of
In 2011, an ecologist released an alarming study showing that tiny clothing fibers could be the biggest source of plastic in our oceans. The bigger problem? No one wanted to hear it. Source: The Guardian, 10/27/14

Transforming Agbogbloshie: From Toxic E-Waste Dump Into Model Recycling Center
On October 9, Agbogbloshie, Ghana -- one of the world's largest e-waste dumpsites -- got something new. The sense of excitement grew when residents saw a group of about a dozen men carrying a towering sign through town before planting it in the ground and raising it up in a Herculean effort, with six men on each side pushing and pulling. The 20-foot tall sign announced the launch of a pilot project -- the opening of a new e-waste recycling facility that could transform the way recyclers work in one of the worst polluted places on earth. Source: Blacksmith Institute Pollution Blog, 10/16/14

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Ebay, Kindle and Skype rule among the greenest apps
Ebay, Skype and Kindle now have more in common than being three of the most widely used smartphone apps. They are also the best apps for promoting sustainable behavior, according to a recent study by the WSP Group, a U.K. environmental consultancy firm. WSP devised a subjective scoring system to rank the top 20 apps that "bring sustainability to everyday lives." It scored the apps on three metrics: popularity (gauged by the number of downloads), "stickability" (essentially its shelf life, determined by its average app rating, functionality and user comments) and environmental impact. Source:, 10/20/14

Building a Culture of Sustainability
Greening operations is an opportune platform to align employees to your institution's values, provide them with more training for a safer work environment and bolster pride in their employer--all of which results in better engagement. This post outlines six steps for building a culture of sustainability. Source: AdvanceWeb, 10/15/14

Supply-chain fixes are the secret sauce for three NY companies
What do ice cream toppings, mushroom-based packaging and paving stones in common? They all can be greener. In this P2 Impact column, Trish Donohue and Anahita Williamson from the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute, explain how three companies are doing it. Source: GreenBiz, 10/21/14

Sweeping Air Devices For Greener Planes
The large amount of jet fuel required to fly an airplane from point A to point B can have negative impacts on the environment and--as higher fuel costs contribute to rising ticket prices--a traveler's wallet. With funding from NASA and the Boeing Company, engineers from the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech and their collaborators from the University of Arizona have developed a device that lets planes fly with much smaller tails, reducing the planes' overall size and weight, thus increasing fuel efficiency. Source: Cal Tech, 10/20/14

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